See attachments for full instructions and article case study. 

Unit V Global Leadership Transcript

(0:00-1:00)

Dr. Sonya Rogers: In this unit, we will discuss how cultural perceptions can

influence global team leadership. And we’ve spoken before about

organizational vision and diversity in followers or employees. And so, Dr.

Hargadon, I was just wondering what is it that you think is the key for

leaders to successfully lead those at a distance?

Dr. John Hargadon: That’s a good question. In particular when we’re talking

about a global context, right? First of all, difficult even if everyone is in the

same culture but at a distance. And then, if you add the fact that some folks

may be in different cultures or different cultural clusters, as Hofstead or

House might say, then that just adds another level of complexity to the

leaders that sort of play what they need to keep in mind as they’re trying to

work through how to effectively lead the team and accomplish the vision

that they have for the organization.

So there are, again,

(1:00-2:00)

many, many different examples of how culture can come into play in a

leadership context. But one example that I have from my personal

experience was being able to be on a discussion panel where we were

discussing ethics from a multicultural perspective. We had an individual who

was from the Congo, in Africa, grew up in Europe.

I just was discussing Confucianism and Taoism, the Eastern Asia sort of

perspective of ethics. And then of course, we had some folks that were from

the sort of Judeo-Christian, the Western conceptualization of what ethics

mean in those particular cultural clusters. And so we were interested to find

out whether or not the same thing would be considered ethical in each of

those different cultural contexts, given individualism and collectivism and

power distance, and some

(2:00-3:00)

of those different aspects of the different cultural clusters. And it was

interesting. What we found is that everybody says it’s the same. From a

behavioral standpoint, all of the different clusters, the cultural clusters from

around the world say that you should treat people with dignity; you should

treat them with respect.

The motivations for treating them with dignity and respect differ from one

culture to the other, why you’re treating them with dignity and respect

might be different from one culture to the other. But from a behavioral, from

a purely behavioral standpoint, there really was no difference in how you

should treat people.

So that kind of can serve as a baseline, potentially, for how to lead a team

that’s going to potentially cross cultural boundaries, that’s going to be at a

distance. Just keep in mind that we always want to treat people with dignity

and respect. And if we’re doing that, then I think that that opens the door

for us to look at different types of motivations and how to effectively lead

the team to accomplish the vision for the organization.

Sonya: Yes, I’ve

(3:00-4:00)

always heard that followers will act better or perform better if they really

respect their leader.

John: Mm-hm.

Sonya: And if the leader acts out of fear or wants to provoke fear among the

followers, that it’s more of a short-term goal of-

John: Right.

Sonya: Behavior and performance results. So, I agree that no matter what

the organization might be like, if everyone works together and shows

respect and I treat you how I would like you to treat me, then positive

results should occur.

John: That’s right.

BBA 3651, Leadership 1

Course Learning Outcomes for Unit V

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

2. Explain the importance of vision to organizational leadership in a global environment.
2.1 Discuss how cultural perceptions can influence global team leadership.

6. Analyze methods to lead groups/teams effectively.

6.1 Examine the impact of personality traits on a leader’s ability to lead a team.

Course/Unit
Learning Outcomes

Learning Activity

2.1

Unit Lesson
All required readings
Unit V Videos
Unit V Case Study

6.1

Unit Lesson
All required readings
Unit V Videos
Unit V Case Study

Reading Assignment

In order to access the following resources, click the links below.

Click here to access the Unit V Global Leadership video.
Click here to access the transcript for the Unit V Global Leadership video.

Arayesh, M. B., Golmohammadi, E., Nekooeezadeh, M., & Mansouri, A. (2017). The effects of organizational

culture on the development of strategic thinking at the organizational level. International Journal of
Organizational Leadership, 6(2), 261–275.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?dire
ct=true&db=bsu&AN=122738954&site=eds-live&scope=site

Chiu, C.-Y., Owens, B. P., & Tesluk, P. E. (2016). Initiating and utilizing shared leadership in teams: The role

of leader humility, team proactive personality, and team performance capability. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 101(12), 1705–1720.
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t=true&db=buh&AN=124805498&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Kellerman, B. (2019). The future of followership. Strategy & Leadership, 47(5), 42–46.

https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?dire
ct=true&db=bsu&AN=138575791&site=eds-live&scope=site

Unit Lesson

Leading Global Teams

Previously, we expounded on the motivational techniques leaders can utilize to not only incite workers to
perform better but also to enhance organizational retention. As we approach the second part of the course,
we will consider the different aspects associated with varying levels of leadership, organizational structure,

UNIT V STUDY GUIDE

Teams Are Connecting Globally

BBA 3651, Leadership 2

UNIT x STUDY GUIDE

Title

visionary leadership, and the art of leading teams globally. We will also discuss the dynamics aligned with
shared team leadership as well as how cultural values, innovative methods, and communication factors relate
to the performances of different types of teams.

Click here to access the Unit V Global Leadership video.
Click here to access the transcript for the Unit V Global Leadership video.

In order to lead a virtual team effectively, leaders must first understand how to connect with members over
time and at a distance via electronic media to combine team effort and achievement of established goals.
According to a study conducted by Hoch and Kozlowski (2014), fewer than 50% of U.S. businesses worked
with virtual teams in the year of 2000. Yet, by 2008, over 65% of companies expressed that a reliance on
virtual teams would mushroom in the future. Moreover, companies that consisted of 10,000 or more
employees would see a projection of 80% working virtually as a team.

For virtual teams to function at the same level as face-to-face teams, it is imperative that team leaders invest
more time and effort in a supportive manner, exercising empowerment and the development of each
individual member. Mentoring members to boost their career outcomes by making a higher salary, being
promoted, and increasing their job satisfaction is pivotal for supervisors working with virtual teams.

As we have discussed in previous units, transformational leaders are known for inspiring their followers and
motivating them to expand their capabilities to go the extra mile. Leaders who practice shared team
leadership enable collaboration for decision-making and a shared responsibility for achieving goals. This type
of leadership approach is thought to create stronger bonds between team members. It is also one that builds
trust, cohesion, and team commitment (Hoch & Kozlowski, 2014).

Creating a Vision for Virtual Teams

In most recent decades, organizations have become heavily reliant on different types of teams to keep
performance standards high. A vision to improve overall performance measures has created the need for
management teams, project teams, production teams, task teams, and self-managed teams. Companies that
allow shared leadership for decision-making understand that this practice is prominent in situations where
teams are self-managed due to not having an appointed leader. In this type of leadership style, trust is a key
factor to performance. Shared leadership is known to be broadly distributed where people within the team

Effective team performance
(Hoch & Kozlowski, 2014)

BBA 3651, Leadership 3

UNIT x STUDY GUIDE

Title

lead each other. Most often, it is compared to horizontal, distributed, and collective leadership. It typically
contrasts from vertical or hierarchical leadership. This common work style often allows the most qualified
individuals to strengthen their capabilities while feeling a freedom to take the initiative to complete tasks they
feel empowered to tackle.

Organizations have adopted virtual teams due to the reduction of travel expenses, costs being duplicated,
and meeting times. These logistical savings, as well as more flexibility in dealing with increased globalized
competition and elevated business demands, will most
likely continue the desire for business leaders to work with
virtual-based teams. When virtual teams are small, live
audio is typically used. However, with larger teams, the
most common means of communication is email, instant
messaging, and electronic chat. Large companies such as
IBM, Boeing, Century Link, and Hewlett Packard have
witnessed and reported an increase in productivity through
the use of virtual teams (Purvanova, 2014).

Today, multinational companies are interested in capturing
their employees’ creativity and skill sets by hiring and
developing members from different geographical locations
to serve on different teams while all members reside at a
distance. Moreover, many organizations envision virtual
teams to be an opportunity to improve strategic
partnerships with other thriving businesses.

Cultural Values Affect Team Performances

Cultural values are basically the general rules that depict the collective feelings of a group. These values can
be spoken as a philosophy or a belief. Some organizations use cultural values as a means to motivate
members to think or behave a certain way. As a result of different cultural rules, conflict can result when
teams are cross-cultural. Expectations tend to be violated due to communication behaviors, conflict resolution
concerns, and decision-making processes; therefore, it is best if expectations are communicated at the
beginning of a project, if leaders make decisions after listening to all issues discussed, and if ground rules are
established for dealing with uncomfortable situations (Dyer, Dyer, & Dyer, 2012).

Organizational leaders who are perplexed about leading virtual teams could ask the following questions.

• How does a traditional (face-to-face) team differ from a virtual team?

• What problems could surface when managing a virtual team?

• What is the best way to strengthen team development within a virtual team?

• How does technology affect the success of a virtual team?

• What is the best way to deal with team conflict while leading a virtual team?

Innovative Methods for Working with Diverse Teams

Team cohesion and effectiveness are often impacted by the moods, personalities, and emotions of
employees: how they think, interact, and behave. As a result, this often has a positive or negative effect on
work performances, employee job satisfaction, absenteeism, and the overall commitment of a worker to an
organization. In today’s workforce, many businesses are comprised of older workers who many people may
associate with a sense of vulnerability and a decline in productivity. However, research often shows that these
negative perceptions are unjustified (Scheibe, Yeung, & Doerwald, 2019). Further research is most likely
needed to systematically target the moderators of age effects at various levels such as the individual,
occupational, and cultural level.

Because organizations are increasingly working with diversified, globally distributed teams residing in different
timezones, there is a tremendous reliance on electronic communication and heterogeneity in memberships.
Consequently, diverse knowledge and expertise within the dynamics of the group must be harnessed. Since
the art of achieving inclusion for team decision-making could be a challenge, it must be addressed carefully.

Leaders help others
(Vchalup, 2017)

BBA 3651, Leadership 4

UNIT x STUDY GUIDE

Title

Moreover, consistent and clear leader-member communication and information exchange is needed for
successful completion of team goals (Gajendran & Joshi, 2012).

Scenario

Serving Aces is a well-established business that focuses on selling top brand tennis apparel, equipment, and
accessories. Even though it is located in the middle of the U.S. region, it consists of employees who are
dispersed across the globe. Though some of its company leaders opt to communicate predominantly via
email, others are more accustomed to audioconferences. While Billy, a team lead, is receptive to the idea of
email exchange from his supervisor for the purpose of coordination and collaboration of important initiatives,
he is also unsure at times exactly what points are being made and what direction to take. However, Johnny,
another team lead, is continuously sitting in audioconference meetings where he feels that an email would
have sufficed better at times, and he often does not feel like his boss truly listens to others in the meetings.
How should a member communicate to a leader if he or she feels the members do not truly have a voice in
decision-making and sufficient brainstorming is not occurring for the team as a whole?

Communication Factors and Job Engagement

It is evident that engaged employees will better meet an organization’s competitive advantages, and the more
connected members are to their work physically, cognitively, and emotionally, the more their energy is
displayed as a mere form of an investment. Therefore, positive outcomes generally surface as projects are
completed in a timely and efficient manner. The downside to this notion is that some workers do not know
how to separate their work life from their home life, and one or the other often suffers if there is not a true
balance between the two responsibilities (Wang, Law, Zhang, Li, & Liang, 2019).

References

Dyer, W. G., Dyer, J. H., & Dyer, W. G. (2012). Team building: Proven strategies for improving team

performance. Wiley.

Gajendran, R. S., & Joshi, A. (2012). Innovation in globally distributed teams: The role of LMX,

communication frequency, and member influence on team decisions. Journal of Applied Psychology,
97(6), 1252–1261.

Hoch, J. E., & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (2014). Leading virtual teams: Hierarchical leadership, structural supports,

and shared team leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 99(3), 390–403.
https://libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direc
t=true&db=buh&AN=96070382&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Purvanova, R. K. (2014). Virtual versus face-to-face teams: What have we really learned? The Psychologist-

Manager Journal, 17(1), 2–29.

Psychological ownership

BBA 3651, Leadership 5

UNIT x STUDY GUIDE

Title

Scheibe, S., Yeung, D. Y., & Doerwald, F. (2019). Age-related differences in levels and dynamics of
workplace affect. Psychology and Aging, 34(1), 106–123. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pag0000305

Vchalup. (2017). Man is giving helping hand. Silhouettes of people climbing on mountain at sunset (ID

99642011) [Photograph]. Dreamstime. https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-man-giving-helping-
hand-silhouettes-people-climbing-mountain-sunset-man-giving-helping-hand-silhouettes-people-
image99642011

Wang, L., Law, K. S., Zhang, M. J., Li, Y. N., & Liang, Y. (2019). It’s mine! Psychological ownership of one’s

job explains positive and negative workplace outcomes of job engagement. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 104(2), 229–246. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/apl0000337

Learning Activities (Nongraded)

Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit
them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.

For this nongraded learning opportunity, consider a professional or personal project you were expected to
complete within a limited timeframe, and answer the following questions.

If you were in charge of a team comprised of virtual and onsite employees, what would you do to ensure all
members felt connected and valued? What types of team building activities would you conduct?

For this nongraded activity, create a list of team-building activities that can be used in remote teams, such as
a department Instagram account. Additionally, the below resource may provide some useful ideas.

Sussman, J. (2017). 6 creative virtual team building activities for remote teams. Museum Hack.

https://museumhack.com/virtual-team-building-for-remote-teams/

EBSCO Publishing Citation Format: APA 7th Edition (American Psychological Assoc.):

NOTE: Review the instructions at http://support.ebsco.com.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/help/?
int=ehost&lang=&feature_id=APA and make any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to
personal names, capitalization, and dates. Always consult your library resources for the exact formatting and
punctuation guidelines.

References
Vandaveer, V. V. (2012). Dyadic Team Development across Cultures: A Case Study. Consulting Psychology

Journal: Practice & Research, 64(4), 279–294. https://doi-
org.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/10.1037/a0031652

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Dyadic Team Development Across Cultures: A Case Study
By: Vicki V. Vandaveer
The Vandaveer Group, Inc., Houston, Texas;
Acknowledgement:

The consulting project described in this case study arose as part of a long-term consulting engagement
with a large U.S. international company. The names of the participants in the case and some of the
locations have been changed in order to ensure anonymity. The author-consultant had been working
with a man I will call Steve, president of a global business unit (GBU), for several years—first as his
executive development coach, then in an ongoing role as a trusted advisor on behavioral, performance,
and leadership aspects of the business.

The consultant’s contract with the company was an “umbrella” contract for “organizational change
management consulting services” associated with the merger of two large international companies. The
overarching contract generally described the scope and nature of the work to be performed and was
appended with “Statements of Work” (SOW) for the specific services provided to different business units
(BUs). For this particular engagement, because the consultant was already working with the BU
President and his leadership team (LT), no additional SOW was deemed necessary, because the
description of services included leader coaching, team development, and subteam development as
needed.

An important aspect of the context in which this case occurred was the merger. In addition to the normal
responsibilities of running the business and meeting financial reporting deadlines, managers were
working feverishly to effectively merge operations and two very different corporate cultures. I was
working with the overall merger strategy team and leading the change management team, and was
working with the merger teams of several BUs. Everything was urgent; everyone was working 16–18

hour days; and the work required to lead—and to overcome organizational immunity to—significant
change was all-consuming for all.

Steve was a designated “high potential” (HIPO) manager. He had been promoted twice in the 5 years
that I had been working with him as he advanced from Regional Vice President (VP) to the Executive
VP’s Advisor to president of a GBU. He was not an immediately open person naturally, and it took some
time before he opened enough with me that I could add value in his executive development. Over time, I
became his trusted advisor and he made significant progress in looking deeply at himself and allowing
me to help him enhance his already strong leadership effectiveness. His primary executive development
need identified by the senior leaders of the company was to have an international assignment. Thus far,
all of his assignments had been in the U.S. corporate headquarters and several field assignments as he
had come up the ranks from engineer to manager to now a senior level leadership role. His next
assignment would be international. At the time of this project, he was in his first year as the GBU’s
president with the expectation of moving after two to four years.

After 6 months in his new role, Steve made some changes in his LT for purposes of (a) developmental
reassignment, (b) bringing talented people from other countries and cultures onto his team to have
representation of GBU countries on the Headquarters (HQ) LT, and (c) providing identified HIPOs within
their respective countries with the kinds of developmental experiences only obtained by working in U.S.
corporate HQ. He also wanted experience in leading a multicultural team prior to taking an international
assignment. He used the company’s worldwide staffing process to review candidates and select people
for key roles on his team—one of which was a Financial Planning Manager. For that role he selected a
HIPO woman from a developing Muslim country, whom I will call Misha. She had been working for
several years as the Financial Planning Manager FPM for the Asia/Pacific Region, based in Hong Kong.

I was pleased to learn that Misha had been selected, both for Steve’s team’s sake and hers. Over the
past 8 years, I had observed and worked with her on a number of occasions in two of her Regional
Planning Manager assignments: (a) Africa–Middle East region, based in East Africa, and (b) in her
current assignment—Asia/Pacific region—based in Hong Kong. We worked together in the Africa–
Middle East region on two different initiatives: (a) LT development of the multicultural team of which she
was a member and (b) implementation of the new performance management system, which among
other things, required cultural adaptation of the behavioral indicator ratings (i.e., “behavioral anchors”) in
each of the different cultures—to support the company’s Core Values and Corporate Compliance
Guidelines. Cultural adaptation meant wording the definitions and behavioral anchors on the rating
scales so that the intended meaning would be conveyed. For example, one dimension rated was
originally worded as “Demonstrates respect for others’ cultures.” In some cultures the term respect for
was replaced with acceptance of, because, although there was not genuine “respect” for certain
customs in other cultures (e.g., treatment of women), employees were expected to “accept” that that
was the custom, and therefore not criticize nor engage in behaviors that demonstrated lack of
“acceptance” while working in or visiting that country. In other cultures to “accept” others’ customs
means to “adopt as our own”—clearly not intended; thus, “demonstrate (show) respect” conveyed the
intended behavior.

Misha was adept at recognizing English terminology that had very different meanings across different
cultures. I had had several other opportunities as well to work with her on different initiatives, including

cross-cultural LT development with the teams of which she was a member in United Arab Emirates and
later in Kenya. She was obviously very bright, perceptive, and respected by and had influence with her
colleagues. In LT meetings she was the focal point when the conversation concerned the Region’s
finances. Her demeanor was quiet, and she was always very respectful in talking with everyone—no
matter their level in the organization. At the same time it was clear to any observer that members of the
LT sought out and respected her judgment in business analysis and planning.

With a bachelor’s degree in finance from a well-respected university in the United Kingdom, Misha had
lived and worked very successfully in five different countries in the past 15 years. Although she had had
one assignment in the U.S. for a small Joint Venture (JV) company prior to the mega-merger of the JV’s
parent companies, she had never had an assignment in a large U.S. Corporate Headquarters. A true
“citizen of the world,” Misha had become quite Westernized in her dress and demeanor and had
departed considerably from the behavioral norms of most women in her home culture. After she had
received her degree, she went to work for her present employer company and happily took assignments
in different countries. She told me that she would never go back to her home country to work, as there
were no jobs for women there at the same level of responsibility and pay as her current and recent jobs
with this multinational company. She looked forward to having a U.S. corporate HQ assignment.

A Rough Start

Six months into her new assignment as Financial Planning Manager, reporting to Steve, I received an
urgent call from Steve that he needed my help with Misha. He said that she was “floundering” in her new
role and he did not know what to do about it. We met to discuss the problems, and I learned that Steve
had changed her job title (and responsibilities) to Manager of Strategy and Planning. As Financial
Planning Manager, Misha’s responsibilities were to collect the budgeting and financial information from
each region every month, analyze the data, develop reports with graphic profiles for use in BU planning,
and work with BU regional and country managers to understand the results and trends. This was a very
analytical set of responsibilities that required effective communication and (supportive) relational skills.
As Manager of Strategy and Planning, she was expected to work with the other members of Steve’s LT,
facilitating their developing BU strategy. This (to Steve, “minor”) change was actually a major one, as
some substantially different skillsets were required for actively facilitating strategy development among
some very strong and competitive Western regional leaders, each of whom had different agendas,
drivers (i.e., balanced scorecard performance metrics), and needs.

Perspectives of the Leader

In our initial meeting, Steve acknowledged that Misha was “a very hard worker, a team oriented leader,
caring and supportive of her team, and had quiet confidence.” However, as a facilitator of strategy
development, she was failing miserably. The entire LT was affected, no one happy with the process of
strategy development, everyone “dug in” to their positions. No one was willing to “give up” anything, and
several had come to Steve to complain.

Steve asked me to conduct confidential interviews with Misha and each member of his LT to assess the
issues and make a recommendation to him about how to resolve the problem. I saw that (a) he was
envisioning a kind of 180 degree feedback (i.e., from peers and supervisor) on Misha’s effectiveness (a

very U.S./Western methodology, characteristic of individualistic cultures), (b) he perhaps hadn’t fully
understood the significance of her job redesign on her performance effectiveness, and (c) some
“misfires” in communication were occurring between the two of them—likely at least in part attributable
to cultural misunderstandings. I suggested that I first talk with Misha to get her perspective on how
things were going with her job, with Steve, and with Steve’s team—and then propose an approach. I
explained that one-on-one interviewing to get individuals’ perspectives on Misha’s effectiveness and the
effectiveness of the relationships between the LT and Misha, and between Steve and Misha, is a very
Western practice that could feel quite threatening to someone from a collectivist culture; and that it could
make the situation much worse if cultural norms were violated. We agreed that the process needed to
do no harm. I wanted first to understand Misha’s perspectives (I did not assume collectivist orientation,
given her history, but needed to be sure) and those of her small team, to learn her thoughts about how
to approach the problem, and discuss with her the suggested plan. Then I would propose a method to
Steve. Steve readily agreed to these initial steps.

Misha appeared glad to see me. She admitted being “completely at a loss” to know how to please
Steve; and she expressed fear of failing—for the first time in her life. She talked very openly about the
problems she was experiencing with Steve and with his LT. She also expressed difficulty in adjusting to
U.S. culture. As friendly as people appeared to be, at the end of the day everyone went home and no
one ever invited her to their homes—something she had become accustomed to in every other country
in which she had lived as an expatriate.

I explored with Misha the (admittedly Western) approach of achieving an effective understanding of the
issues by first assessing the problem by obtaining the perspectives of each of the key stakeholders,
beginning with her and Steve, then including members of her team and Steve’s LT. This process could
help identify the conflict dynamics and likely causes of the problems. This approach, I explained, would
better enable us to design and target an appropriate and effective intervention. I shared with her the
kinds of open-ended questions I would ask of each LT and SPT member, explaining how individual
confidentiality would be protected and how the information would be reported and used. I noted that
both Misha and Steve would see the results, and that there would likely then be one team development
intervention between Misha and Steve, facilitated by me. Reviewing the results separately with each of
them, I explained, would allow me to help prepare each of them for having effective communication with
each other in the initial team development meeting. I asked Misha how she felt about this approach and
was prepared to come at the problem a different way if she was at all uncomfortable. We knew each
other well enough that she was comfortable with and trusted me. Misha said she was not only
comfortable with the approach but was eager to know what others were thinking and perceiving. She
reminded me that she had been educated in the United Kingdom and had been dealing with Westerners
for the past 20-plus years and that she was very motivated to be successful in this U.S. international
company. We both laughed; of course she had been “dealing with Westerners” for some time—and
quite successfully. Her bosses in the other countries had been Westerners (Australian and white South
African); however, they had treated her more like family.

Results of the Needs Assessment Interviews

Excerpts from Steve’s and Misha’s responses to the needs assessment interviews—in the language
used by them—are shown in Table 1. The underlining indicates key terms that clearly indicated

assumptions, expectations, and/or personal or cultural values.

Key Excerpts From the Initial Interviews With the President and Manager of Strategy and Planning
(MSP)

The language used is revealing. Steve used verbs in describing what he expected Misha to do, such as
drive, push, challenge, take control, exert her influence—all characteristic of Hofstede’s (2001, 2011)
and others’ cultural dimensions of individualism (as opposed to collectivism), lower power distance,
lower uncertainty avoidance, and low paternalism. Misha’s words included family, all on same team,
Steve is the boss, work so hard to do exactly what he says to do in the way he says to do it—remindful
of the cultural dimension of collectivism (as opposed to individualism), paternalism, higher power
distance, and higher uncertainty avoidance (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004;
Hofstede, 2002, 2011; Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 1998, 2004; Triandis, 2002).

In applying Hofstede’s terms, it is important to note that the research approach used was, as described
by Hofstede, “sociological, not psychological. It does not compare different personalities, but different
societal contexts within which children grow up and develop their personalities. It is not about
individuals, but about the constraints within which, in different countries, a psychology to relatedness
should be developed” (House et al., 2004; Minkov & Hofstede, 2012). Neither scientifically nor
practically is it appropriate to merely translate these cultural dimensions into assumptions that they
apply to every individual within or from a given culture, for there is vast variability among individuals—
just as in our own culture—particularly, as in this case, when an individual has been educated and has
lived and worked for years in cultures very different from her home country. However, it is also true that

individuals who have grown up in a given culture, with rare exception, do have deeply embedded values
arising from their experiences and learnings from their parents and others in that culture that remain a
part of them for as long as they live. Those deeply ingrained cultural values, assumptions, and beliefs
tend to manifest when one is experiencing significant stress, such as may be caused by living and
working in a different culture, feeling isolated, feeling unsupported personally by the manager, and for
the first time sensing or fearing failure.

Interpretation

Familiar with Hofstede’s (2001), Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner’s (1998), and Triandis’s (2002)
work, and with the GLOBE study (House et al., 2004), I immediately and automatically associated
Steve’s and Misha’s respective words in describing the difficulties each had with each other with the
cultural dimensions of individualism versus collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and
paternalism. As a consultant working to help this dyadic team achieve better relationship and
performance effectiveness, the research pioneered by the work of these researchers served as a helpful
framework for use in helping Steve and Misha to better understand each other, resolve their differences,
and find an effective solution to the problems.

Hofstede’s work has been both heralded as seminal and criticized methodologically,primarily for
overreliance on a large global sample from one large multinational company. I tend to favor the
consensus of GLOBE study researchers: “The importance of Hofstede’s (1980) study for cross-cultural
research cannot be underestimated, as it was the first large-scale empirical project to put these abstract
constructs on the empirical map…[it] provided a conceptual roof under which existing studies could fall,
as compared to the atheoretical stance that had previously characterized the cross-cultural literature in
management” (House et al., 2004, p. 441) because in my experience, practically it frequently makes
sense to people who are trying to communicate and relate across cultures. And each time that happens,
my own appreciation for Hofstede’s conceptualizations is further reinforced. Definitions of these societal
cultural dimensions (Hofstede, 2001; House, et al.,, 2004; Triandis, 2002; Trompenaars & Hampden-
Turner, 2004; James, Chen, & Cropanzano, 1996) are provided in Table 2. A number of other
researchers have contributed substantially to current understanding of cross-cultural dynamics.
However, even if I had the luxury of time to do a thorough literature review at that time, I would not have
done anything differently relative to the intervention. Although cultural misunderstandings very likely
explained a certain amount of Steve’s and Misha’s communication and relationship “misfires” and the
disappointing performance of the Manager of Strategy and Planning, other factors (e.g., significant
change of job responsibilities subsequent to placing Misha in her position; insufficient clarity on Steve’s
part with his LT regarding expectations and “non-negotiables”) he expected them to “step up” as leaders
and make decisions about their budgets that were in the interest of the whole GBU and Company), and
so forth) were also operating in the conflict between them. This case study emphasizes the cross-
cultural issues, in keeping with the theme of this special issue of CPJ.

Relevant Societal Cultural Dimensions—Definitions and Example Characteristics

Relevant Societal Cultural Dimensions—Definitions and Example Characteristics

Table 3 shows the associations I made between Steve’s and Misha’s respective statements and the
societal cultural dimensions that were likely implied. Their statements served as indicators of their
assumptions, expectations, needs and values.

Statements and Terminology As Indicators of Assumptions, Expectations, and Needs Potentially
Stemming From Societal Cultural Values, Norms

Statements and Terminology As Indicators of Assumptions, Expectations, and Needs Potentially
Stemming From Societal Cultural Values, Norms

Statements and Terminology As Indicators of Assumptions, Expectations, and Needs Potentially
Stemming From Societal Cultural Values, Norms

Process and Dynamics of the Consulting Project

Having completed the interviews with Steve and Misha, I proceeded to continue the need assessment
by interviewing the members of their respective teams. The consulting project process is described
below.

Need assessment interviews—members of Steve’s LT (n = 8) and members of Misha’s planning (now
strategy and planning) team (n = 5)
Confidential interviews—results aggregated and summarized by team; individuals’ responses not
identified nor identifiable.
Covered a range of relevant issues: what is currently going very well in the BU; what is not going so
well; perspectives on causes (+ and –), enablers of effectiveness, and obstacles; perspectives on team
dynamics, leadership (style, clarity, effectiveness, etc.), and processes, structure of GBU; their own
contributions to the level of successes, effectiveness of the team; views regarding what is needed to
enhance the effectiveness and performance of the BU and the LT; and so forth.
Review of respondents’ results separately—Misha, Steve
In order that each might digest the results independently, and so that I could help prepare each one for
their team building.
First team building session—Steve and Misha
The session began with storytelling. I asked each of them to describe their professional (and life)
journey that brought them to this same place in time, to work together at a historic moment in this

company’s history, to achieve great things together. (This consisted of a 1/2 day getting to know each
other, “softly” facilitated by me to help draw out key things that I knew about each of them that I knew
would be helpful for the other to know.)
This approach served to ease tensions and make both more comfortable for looking at the interview
results.
There were surprises on both sides—and occasional laughter as their respective stories unfolded.
Already they were beginning to see how very different their upbringings had been—and how interesting
the real story was about how they each arrived at this place at this time.
Reviewed, discussed interview results—their own statements
Surfaced assumptions, feelings, perceptions, and expectations—and introduced the societal cultural
dimensions as they might apply to what they were discussing.
Both of them appeared to be interested in learning and entertaining the notion that their deeply
ingrained imprints from their upbringing in their respective cultures could be an important source of their
assumptions, expectations, needs, values. I sensed that in some way they were relieved to find an
explanation that made sense to them—relieved them, perhaps of feeling they were to blame for the
difficulties.
I observed the heightened energy in their conversation as they discussed “individualism” and
“collectivism,” for example, and it was interesting to see how far they took that. Misha was definitely
Westernized compared to most women from her home country; however, she recognized in her own
interview statements that she still had “vestiges” of expectations and assumptions from her home
country’s culture and that they must be more than “vestiges” because she was feeling so distraught,
anxious, fearful about failure in this assignment, and wanting so much to be “parented” by Steve and to
be welcomed as “family” to him and the LT.
Similarly, confronted with his own deeply ingrained assumptions, expectations, and U.S./Western “lens,”
Steve reflected on his stated perspectives in our interview and began to see the impact they were
having on Misha—actually having the opposite effect to what he wanted. He recognized that he had
misattributed Misha’s ineffectiveness with the LT to inability and/or unwillingness to do her job any other
way than how she had always done it.
What Misha already knew from her experiences elsewhere—and what Steve was now appreciating—
was that we don’t really understand our own culture until we are confronted with a different culture (as in
the oft-cited example “a fish doesn’t comprehend water until it is out of it”). And this was another new
experience for Misha: U.S. culture plus this company’s particular corporate HQ culture plus having a
manager who, for the first time, didn’t embrace her as family.
There was much more, but this description serves to make the point that the dyadic team building
between Steve and Misha was a process of discovery, and the societal cultural dimensions of their
respective countries was a useful tool for opening up an authentic and deeper conversation between
them.

Reviewed the interview results of Steve’s LT and Misha’s small team (relevant excerpts are shown in
Table 4).
Clarified needs (of the team, Misha, Steve); roles—Misha’s and Steve’s; expectations
Individual Coaching: Steve and Misha

Excerpts From Need Assessment Interviews
I worked with Misha and with Steve individually between team building meetings, to help each of them
enhance their (a) processing of what transpired in their meetings—extracting and internalizing the
insights and learnings; (b) understanding of themselves and each other; (c) skills in communicating and
relating with each other; and (d) facilitating their thinking through important issues.

Steve and Misha were making good progress in understanding each other and communicating more
effectively. However, it was still the case that the change in Misha’s job responsibilities meant that she
was not a strong fit for the role as Steve needed it to be. Being “tough,” “assertive,” and “pushy” was
against Misha’s very nature—and opposite to the characteristics that had made her so effective in her
prior roles. Feeling better about her relationship and communication with Steve, Misha nevertheless was

still miserable—still feeling socially isolated, pressured to be more like an aggressive Westerner and
“push” the team members to come up with a strong and sound business strategy and to compromise. I
took her through an exercise of analyzing her two main alternatives: (a) stay—tough it out—and learn
from this challenging assignment; or (b) leave—find a different job within the company.

Misha’s thought process—and her decision are shown in Table 5. Note that this was done after the
second dyadic team development meeting (described below).

Ongoing dyadic team building: Steve and Misha (three more sessions)

Misha’s Decision and Thought Process
Session 2 covered what each needed from each other, and specific commitments were made. Then
they engaged in discussion about BU strategy—how to get alignment. My role in that meeting was to
help ensure that they heard each other, occasionally calling time out for a “coaching moment.” Misha
suggested that Steve engage an internal strategy and organization change professional in a different
BU to facilitate the strategy development work—pointing out that that would allow her (Misha) to
participate as a team member, using her in-depth knowledge of the BU’s and company’s financials; her
intimate knowledge of each of the international regions’ circumstances, needs, capabilities; and her
good understanding of the business’s economics, strengths, vulnerabilities, and so forth.

Steve accepted her proposal. It worked: The strategy and organization change professional had what it
took to get the “cowboys” aligned on a sound strategy. And Misha’s contributions in that meeting were
acknowledged by the whole team.

Session 3 included active communication and planning, now that the business strategy was set. Misha
could now do what she was very good at—working with each of the LT members to plan execution
within their organization. After the plan was agreed, Misha told Steve about her decision to look for
another job within the company—sharing with him her decision thought process. Steve expressed
appreciation for her consideration of “what’s best for the GBU” and also expressed some sadness to see
her go. He and this wise, quiet, perceptive woman from the other side of the world had had quite a
learning and development journey together.

The merger activities made a quick transition difficult, as the positions in the merged company had been
filled from top down. Steve worked hard to find a good position for her and that happened 6 months
later.

GBU LT development
We used the LT’s summarized interview responses as a platform for discussion and work.
Misha participated as a team member and became increasingly more respected and valued, and her
insights and different ways of thinking becoming more appreciated by the LT members.
Results

The agenda for Session 4 of Steve’s and Misha’s team building was to do a “learning look-back” and to
evaluate this engagement. Both Steve and Misha declared it a “success,” in that:

they had achieved better understanding—of each other and of themselves;
communication had opened;
their relationship had improved—to the point that they now rated it as “very good”;
Misha’s decision to search for a different job within the company was the right one for her and for the
BU; and
both Steve and Misha evaluated the intervention outcomes as “successful beyond what they expected.”
Key Learnings
My learnings from this engagement were several and included the following:

My prior relationship with Misha was a not insignificant factor in the success of the intervention from
Misha’s perspective. Over a period of about 6 years previously our numerous opportunities to work
together had been accompanied by countless dinners with the various management teams in several
different developing countries—sharing stories, learning others’ cultures, eating local food—and even
shopping for art and crafts and holiday gifts together on weekends with the country managers. Almost
20 years her senior, I was seen by Misha as a “mentor” and “role model” (which I learned in the last
team building session between her and Steve). Although she did not include “mother” in her description,
I wondered whether her happiness to see me at the beginning of this engagement might have had
something to do with feeling that I was “family.” At least, she felt safe; and that was what was important
and what allowed us to do the work in the way that we did it.

The APA Ethical Principle #3.05 regarding multiple relationships was a concern to me when I first began
working internationally—especially in Eastern cultures, but also even in Western cultures with big
expatriate communities. Expectations are that the consultant will indeed participate in dinners, outings,
ex-pat gatherings, community activities; and in fact, to be successful, one really does need to have that
kind of “dual relationship.” Copied from the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of
Conduct:
3.05 Multiple Relationships. (a) A multiple relationship occurs when a psychologist is in a professional
role with a person and (1) at the same time is in another role with the same person, (2) at the same time
is in a relationship with a person closely associated with or related to the person with whom the
psychologist has the professional relationship
A psychologist refrains from entering into a multiple relationship if the multiple relationship could
reasonably be expected to impair the psychologist’s objectivity, competence or effectiveness in
performing his or her functions as a psychologist, or otherwise risks exploitation or harm to the person
with whom the professional relationship exists.

Multiple relationships that would not reasonably be expected to cause impairment or risk exploitation or
harm are not unethical.

In this case, as I saw that Misha felt “family connection” with me, and I wanted to be sure that I neither
succumbed to protecting her (like her mother!)—nor to unnecessarily erecting barriers to our
relationship. I handled that by discussing it directly with her. She was interested—wanted to understand
—and wanted me to remain objective and therefore maximally helpful to her and to Steve. I was “coach”
and “facilitator”; she was client and a “cultural teacher” to me (as she always had been) and to Steve, as
he was to her.

My insight was that this was a dynamic process that stimulated the growth of us all by its evolution and
mutual learning, as opposed to an assessment → intervention → outcomes causal, linear process.

Misha’s suggestion that someone else more skilled at strong facilitation be engaged to facilitate the
strategy work was a good one in another way besides achieving very successfully the Team’s objective
of getting a good strategy. It also put Misha in a position with her LT peers where she could shine. As a
member of the LT (as opposed to being facilitator), she was able to display and contribute her strengths;
and her credibility considerably improved with the other LT members.
The impact of my Self on this consulting engagement was obvious and made me even more keenly
attuned to my approach. I needed to be careful to strike just the right balance and timing in engagement
and holding back, challenging and supporting, teaching and letting the process take its course for a
while—the art of the helping role. Working with two people from different cultures further enhanced my
awareness of my own culture and my impact in the consulting process, contributing to my own further
learning and development.
Discussion

There have been a good number of high quality studies done in recent years on cultural dimensions—at
the societal, organizational, group, and individual levels (see References). It is my hope that there will
be more collaboration between practitioners and researchers to advance the science and practice of
cross-cultural savvy and leadership.

This particular engagement came in the midst of a large corporate merger for which I was the change
management consultant to the corporate merger team. Consequently I did not do an exhaustive
literature review of cross-cultural research. I went with what I knew, using the scientific work with which I
was familiar to frame our work and serve as a platform for enhancing communication between Steve
and Misha. That proved to be helpful. Each person in the dyad recognized aspects of themselves in the
descriptions of the societal dimensions, and that helped them bridge across their different cultural
upbringings to connect. And that connection helped lead to their achieving greater understanding, much
improved communication, and a “very effective” working relationship. Both of them say that what they
learned from each other has served them well in subsequent years and different assignments.

References
Farh, J. L. & Cheng, B. S. (2002). A cultural analysis of paternalistic leadership in Chinese organizations
In J. T.Li, A. S.Tsui, & E.Weldon (Eds.), Management and organizations in the Chinese context (pp. 84–
127). London: McMillan.

Gelfand, M. J., Erez, M., & Aycan, Z. (2007). Cross-cultural organizational behavior. Annual Review of
Psychology, 58, 479–514. Sage.

Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences. Beverly Hills, Sage.

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and
organizations across nations (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Hofstede, G. (2002). Cultural diversity. Thinkers. Chartered Management Institute.

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. In W. J.Lonner, S.
A.Dinnel, & D. N.Sattler (Eds.), Online readings in psychology and culture: Unit 2: Conceptual,
methodological and ethical issues in psychology and culture. Bellingham: Center for Cross-Cultural
Research, Western Washington University. Retrieved from
http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~culture/readings.htm

House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership and
organizations: The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

James, K., Chen, D. L., & Cropanzano, R. (1996). Culture and leadership among Taiwanese and U.S.
workers: Do values influence leadership ideals? In M. N.Ruderman, M. W.Hughes-James, & S.
E.Jackson (Eds.), Selected research on work team diversity (pp. 33–52). Greensboro, NC: Center for
Creative Leadership. doi:10.1037/10507-002

Minkov, M., & Hofstede, G. (2012). Is national culture a meaningful concept? Cultural values delineate
homogeneous national clusters of in-country regions. Cross-Cultural Research: The Journal of
Comparative Social Science, 46, 133–159. doi:10.1177/1069397111427262

Triandis, H. C. (2002). Individualism and collectivism. In M.Gannon & K.Newman (Eds.) Handbook of
cross-cultural management (pp. 16–45). New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Trompenaars, F., & Hampden-Turner, C. (1998). Riding the waves of culture: Understanding cultural
diversity in global business. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Trompenaars, F., & Hampden-Turner, C. (2004). Managing people across cultures. West Sussex,
England: Capstone Publishing Ltd.

Submitted: October 24, 2012 Revised: December 26, 2012 Accepted: December 27, 2012

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without the copyright holders express written permission except for the print or download capabilities of
the retrieval software used for access. This content is intended solely for the use of the individual user.

Source: Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research. Vol. 64. (4), Dec, 2012 pp. 279-294)
Accession Number: 2013-02636-004
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1037/a0031652

Air University Press

Report Part Title: The Power of Organizational Culture

Report Title: Culture Wars

Report Subtitle: Air Force Culture and Civil-Military Relations

Report Author(s): Jeffrey W. Donnithorne

Air University Press (2013)

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21

Chapter 3

The Power of Organizational Culture

The perceptions supplied by an organizational culture some-
times can lead an official to behave not as the situation requires
but as the culture expects.

—James Q. Wilson
Bureaucracy

The rational framework of agency theory aptly models the structural in-
centives that inform civilian and military behavior. This chapter complements
that top-down approach with a bottom-up analysis of the cognitive dimen-
sions of the military’s behavior. Political scientist Elizabeth Kier suggests that
“making sense of how structure matters or what incentives it provides often
requires understanding the meanings that actors attach to their material
world.”1 An organization’s culture supplies that meaning to make sense of its
external and internal environment. Furthermore, the potency of organiza-
tional culture is particularly strong for military organizations given their
unique parameters of entry and advancement.2 As the single port of entry
into the military force, basic military training explicitly inculcates new beliefs,
assumptions, and language into fresh recruits. Decades later, a portion of
these recruits will have successfully navigated the complex shoals of training,
operations, and bureaucracy to achieve positions of leadership. Their career
success will have been in part a function of their ability to make the organiza-
tion’s culture their own, thereby shaping their outlook on future decisions.

This chapter contains three broad areas of emphasis: a brief review of the
literature to define organizational culture, the use of organizational culture as
a causal variable in security studies, and finally, an overview of the basic as-
sumptions that undergird the Air Force’s organizational culture. The first sec-
tion weaves together various definitions from the literature in an effort to
define terms for the rest of the paper. The second section demonstrates the
causal role that organizational culture serves for military organizations, from
shaping doctrine to systems acquisition and war fighting. The final section
uses this theoretical foundation to survey Air Force history in search of its
unique organizational culture. As discussed in chapter 2, this cultural analysis
stipulates cultural observations from other published works and then synthe-
sizes them into five categories of assumptions. These five tenets will form the

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

22

basis for assessing the consonance of national security policy with Air Force
culture in the case studies to follow.

Defining Organizational Culture

As “an empirically based abstraction,” culture can be difficult to define
even though its impact is intuitively clear.3 The idea of culture has been used
to describe a wide array of phenomena, and its profusion can dilute its legiti-
mate impact. If everything can be attributed to culture, then it lacks utility as
an analytical construct. This section presents a select group of definitions
from the literature to define more precisely what culture is and what functions
it serves for members of an organization.

Definitions

Social psychologist Edgar Schein profiles no fewer than 15 different defini-
tions for organizational culture in scholarly literature.4 While each definition
spins its own nuance, Schein highlights four elements of culture that persist
across the literature: its structural stability, depth, breadth, and integration.5
Together, these elements suggest that culture is stable across organizational
generations; it abides at a deep and generally unconscious level; it pervades
the organization; and “rituals, climate, values, and behaviors tie together into
a coherent whole.”6

Reflecting all four elements, Schein’s formal definition of organizational
culture describes “a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a
group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration,
that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be
taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in rela-
tion to those problems” (emphasis added).7 While Schein articulates a thor-
ough sociological definition, other scholars vary the emphasis to provide heu-
ristic conceptions of culture. James Wilson describes an organization’s culture
as “a persistent, patterned way of thinking. . . . Culture is to an organization
what personality is to an individual.”8 Ann Swidler suggests a different meta-
phor, emphasizing the functional dimension of culture in supplying an action
inventory: “A culture is not a unified system that pushes action in a consistent
direction. Rather, it is more like a ‘tool kit’ or repertoire from which actors
select differing pieces for constructing lines of action.”9 Finally, Kim Cameron
and Robert Quinn invoke a colloquial understanding of culture, representing
“how things are around here.”10

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

23

Several threads connect the core elements of each definition: a pattern of
assumptions, a historical genesis, persistent durability, and a common basis
for action. Therefore, this study will draw from these antecedents to stipulate
a composite definition: Culture is the prevailing personality of an organization,
rooted in its collective history, enduring over time, and comprised of assump-
tions from which it forms a basis for future action.

Manifestation

Schein explains that culture will pervade all levels of an organization, with
each level of analysis amplifying a tenet of the root culture. The first level of
cultural manifestation is an organization’s artifacts—the visible, sensory phe-
nomena such as architecture, language, iconography, and ceremonies.11 These
first-level phenomena communicate the priorities and ethos of an organiza-
tion and create the first impression for an outside observer. The second level
of cultural manifestation comprises the espoused beliefs and values of the or-
ganization.12 These espoused beliefs constitute what an organization says it
believes, “[its] sense of what ought to be, as distinct from what is.”13 Espoused
beliefs that consistently prove effective in solving problems for the organiza-
tion ossify into the third level of culture: basic assumptions. These basic as-
sumptions form the cultural cortex of the organization, establishing the
“theories-in-use” that actually determine the organization’s behavior.14 These
theories-in-use may or may not coincide precisely with the organization’s es-
poused beliefs. Nevertheless, this root layer of an organization’s culture—its
basic assumptions—creates the cognitive “tool kit” for future action.

Schein invokes these three levels to describe what to look for in an organi-
zation to discern its unique culture. Additionally, he details where to look in
an organization’s history for the crucibles of cultural formation. Schein iden-
tifies two forces that mold an organization’s basic assumptions: “(1) survival
in and adaptation to its external environment and (2) integration of its inter-
nal processes to ensure the capacity to continue to survive and adapt.”15 There-
fore, understanding an organization’s culture involves searching out its arti-
facts, espoused beliefs, and basic assumptions as formed during its adaptation
to its external environment and reinforced through its internal processes.
These categories will inform the final section of this chapter in search of the
Air Force’s unique organizational culture.

Impact

The core assumptions of an organization’s culture shape its interaction with
its environment. Schein explains, “Culture as a set of basic assumptions de-

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

24

fines for us what to pay attention to, what things mean, how to react emotion-
ally to what is going on, and what actions to take in various kinds of situa-
tions.”16 This process of mental filtration and sense-making resembles the
cognitive effect of a paradigm within theoretical science.17 Just as a paradigm
exerts a causal role on the thinking of those doing “normal science,” an orga-
nization’s culture impacts what its members see, ignore, amplify, and dis-
card.18 Therefore, an organization’s culture both “guides and constrains” its
members and biases the suitability of certain options while blockading the
viability of others.19

Because of these powerful cognitive effects, an organization with an estab-
lished culture seeks policies that reinforce its core ethos. Cultures provide
stability to organizations such that new policies or foreign procedures can
appear threatening. In their studies of bureaucracies and policy making, Mor-
ton Halperin and James Wilson identify the routine behaviors that organiza-
tions employ to preserve their culture.20 “Tasks that are not part of the cul-
ture,” Wilson notes, “will not be attended to with the same energy and
resources as are devoted to tasks that are part of it.”21 Likewise, he observes
that organizations will resist taking on new tasks that appear inconsistent
with their cultural assumptions. Halperin concurs: “An organization is often
indifferent to functions not seen as part of its essence or necessary to protect
its essence.”22 These observations suggest that understanding the behavior of
a military service requires a deep appreciation of the culture that shapes its
thinking. Therefore, the next section documents the pervasive influence of
culture on the military services and national security policy.

The Cultural School of Security Studies

What if military forces were not what we pretend them to be—
the military means to political ends—but were, instead, insti-
tutional ends in themselves that may or may not serve the
larger interests of the nations that support them?

—Carl Builder
The Masks of War

Recognizing the impact of organizational culture on military services,
scholars increasingly account for these cognitive variables in security studies.
This section appropriates the academic discussion of organizational culture
into the specific domain of the military services. The goal of this section is to
demonstrate clearly that organizational culture comprises the dominant vari-

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

25

able in shaping a military’s policy preference. This discussion will inform the
analysis of the later case studies, as the national security policies are com-
pared against the cultural tenets of the Air Force. To substantiate the power of
organizational culture for the Air Force, this section advances four interlock-
ing precepts: first, there is no single monolithic military culture—each service
has its own unique culture; second, military service cultures are uniquely
powerful and pervasive; third, the individual military services exert consider-
able influence on national security policy; and fourth, the organizational cul-
ture of the military services shapes their conceptions of how to structure,
equip, and fight the nation’s wars.

Scholars have long considered organizational behaviors in their analysis of
national security. For example, two foundational works in the field—Barry
Posen’s Sources of Military Doctrine and Graham Allison’s Essence of Deci-
sion—incorporate organizational theory as a primary lens of analysis.23 In
general, these analyses of military behavior consider the military as a mono-
lithic whole with generalized preferences.24 Posen, for example, assumes a
military preference for offensive doctrines as well as “predictability, stability,
and certainty.”25 A closer view of the military, however, reveals four distinct
services, informed by unique cultures and holding unique preferences. Wil-
liamson Murray notes, “There is no monolithic American military culture.
Rather, the four services, reflecting their differing historical antecedents and
the differences in the environments in which they operate, have evolved cul-
tures that are extraordinarily different.”26 Stephen P. Rosen’s analysis corrobo-
rates Murray’s assertion: “Each branch has its own culture and distinct way of
thinking about the way war should be conducted.”27 This awareness suggests
the value of studying each military service separately to gain a better under-
standing of its contribution to security policy.28 Analyzing a service with a
unique organizational culture illuminates preferences with greater specificity
and texture than an aggregate military view affords.

Understanding the culturally distinct military services is particularly im-
portant in light of the uncommon power of their respective cultures. While
Schein and others describe the saturating impact of culture for organizations
in general, military institutions constitute an extreme case. For example, the
military services employ a “closed career principle” with only one way in and
one way up.29 Military members enter at the bottom of the hierarchy, reaching
the top only with time and steady promotion within the organization. From
day one of a military career, the force-feeding of service culture begins. Mili-
tary trainers baptize new recruits into their service norms, stripping them of
their individuality through regulation haircuts and teaching them new ways
to walk, talk, eat, clean, and dress.30 That same culture continues to inform the

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

26

rest of one’s military career, though the shock of the new is replaced with the
transparency of the normal. Because there are no lateral transfers into the up-
per ranks, those who survive to lead have embraced the dominant cultural
norms. For these reasons, Kier suggests that military organizations “may be
the most ‘complete’ societies of any ‘total’ organization.”31 Culture informs the
worldview of any organization but appears to dominate the worldview of a
military service.

In addition to boasting strong cultures, military organizations carry pow-
erful influence in the creation of policy. In fact, Carl Builder asserts that the
military services constitute the major players in the formation of national se-
curity policy.32 Furthermore, he affirms the uniqueness of each service cul-
ture—what he calls “personality”—and the causal impact those personalities
have on service behavior. He suggests that these service personalities “will
even persist through the trauma of war. They affect how the services, in peace-
time, perceive war and then plan and buy and train forces. To understand the
American military styles is to understand what is going on and much of what
is likely to happen in the national security arena—from Star Wars to the Per-
sian Gulf.”33

Since the military services are power players with equally powerful cul-
tures, a growing literature highlights the causal role of organizational culture
in shaping service behavior. John Nagl’s influential work on counterinsur-
gency operations in Malaya and Vietnam highlights the different organiza-
tional cultures of the British and American armies.34 These unique cultures,
Nagl argues, explain the two armies’ varying capacities to become learning
organizations capable of adapting to counterinsurgency operations. Similarly,
Jeffrey Legro’s analysis of mutual restraint between Britain and Germany in
World War II pits a realist view against an organizational culture view.35
Legro’s organizational culture view “posits that the pattern of assumptions,
ideas, and beliefs that prescribe how a military bureaucracy should conduct
battle will influence state preferences and actions on the use of that means.”36
To understand phenomena of restraint in submarine warfare, strategic bomb-
ing, and the non-use of chemical weapons, Legro argues that the organiza-
tional culture lens offers greater explanatory power. For example, after both
Britain and Germany executed “accidental” bombing attacks on each other in
the spring of 1940, Germany largely brushed off the offense while Britain ea-
gerly launched retaliatory campaigns. Legro explains the contrasting re-
sponses by citing that strategic bombing was not a part of the Luftwaffe cul-
ture, though it pulsed at the heart of Royal Air Force (RAF) culture.37

Elizabeth Kier’s study of French and British military doctrine in the inter-
war years sustains a similar line of argument. Kier does not reject the realist

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

27

framework of self-interest but suggests that cultural lenses inform the content
of that interest.38 Builder concurs, observing that a service’s force planning and
systems acquisition are largely shaped by cultural preferences rather than ob-
jective threat analyses.39 Adam Stulberg and Michael Salomone capably sum-
marize the literature: “The common thread to these studies is that military
culture represents the intellectual and inter-subjective capacity of the differ-
ent armed services to come to grips with the tasks of preparing for and wag-
ing war in different strategic, political, and technological settings.”40 This pa-
per advances the same conclusion.

This chapter defines and details the impact of organizational culture and its
uniquely powerful role in shaping the policy preferences of the military ser-
vices. What impact does organizational culture have on civil-military rela-
tions? The existing baseline of agency theory models an aggregate military
with generic self-interest and a culture of subordination. This work relaxes
these assumptions by (1) disaggregating the military and studying one mili-
tary service—the Air Force; and (2) analyzing the service’s unique organiza-
tional culture that informs its understanding of self-interest—a culture that
may or may not prize subordination. Moving from the general to the specific,
what cultural assumptions tacitly shape the Air Force’s preferences? To an-
swer this question, the remainder of this chapter undertakes a cultural analy-
sis of the US Air Force.

The Organizational Culture of the Air Force

Who is the Air Force? It is the keeper and wielder of the deci-
sive instruments of war—the technological marvels of flight
that have been adapted to war.

—Carl Builder
The Masks of War

This section canvasses Air Force history in search of its artifacts, espoused
beliefs, and basic assumptions, forged in the fires of external adaptation and
internal integration. Recalling the definition of culture stipulated earlier in
this chapter, the goal is to uncover the prevailing personality of the Air Force,
rooted in its collective history, enduring over time, and comprised of assump-
tions from which it forms a basis for future action. The methodology of this
section searches out historical and cultural observations from published
works and categorizes the recurring themes into five discrete tenets of Air
Force culture. This paper does not suggest that these five basic assumptions

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

28

are the only ones informing Air Force action, nor do these assumptions satu-
rate the thinking of every Air Force member. They serve as broad generaliza-
tions for the purpose of qualitative analysis in the case studies. These assump-
tions attempt to expose the theories-in-use that shape Air Force policies and
preferences.41 In the interest of brevity, this section does not provide exacting
historical detail, so interested readers seeking more background can follow
the research trailheads suggested by the endnotes.

Technology Centered

Without question, the most consistent and pervasive description of the Air
Force is its core connection to technology. As Builder frankly suggests, “The
Air Force could be said to worship at the altar of technology.”42 The service’s
love for technology, however, is not a disembodied one; rather, the Air Force
prizes the human connection to technology as manifest in the airplane. An
observer’s first impression of the Air Force, rendered through its visible arti-
facts, illuminates an organizational passion for the airplane. Nearly every Air
Force base showcases airplane monuments, often right at the entrance to the
base. As a point of comparison, the parade ground at the US Military Acad-
emy at West Point is flanked by monuments to some of the Army’s great gen-
erals: Washington, Patton, and MacArthur. The Terrazzo at the US Air Force
Academy is cornered by the Air Force’s sleekest airplanes: the F-15, F-16, F-4,
and F-105.43 Walking through the halls of the Pentagon yields similar conclu-
sions, as dramatic paintings and pictures of aircraft dominate the Air Force’s
corporate territory. This fascination with the airplane stems from the earliest
days of the Army Air Corps. Perry Smith notes the visceral connection these
early flyers had with their machines: “To him the airplane was not just a new
and exciting weapon; it was what carried him miles behind enemy lines and
brought him back; it was a personal possession which was given a personal,
usually feminine, name, kissed upon return from a mission, and painted with
a symbol for each enemy plane shot down or bombing mission completed.”44

This love of technology—particularly as expressed in the airplane—illumi-
nates much about past and present Air Force behavior. Richard Hallion notes,
“Generally speaking, the technology tail has wagged the Air Force dog.”45 The
history of the Air Force’s acquisition of both the intercontinental ballistic mis-
sile (ICBM) and remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) suggests an institutional resis-
tance to these disembodied technologies.46 Historian David MacIsaac avers,
“However much the official spokesmen of the air services may deny it, [RPAs]
are not considered an appropriate topic for discussion by most pilots, among
whom it is an article of faith that a manned aircraft can perform any mission

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

29

better than an unmanned aircraft.”47 Although the Air Force certainly ad-
opted these unmanned technologies into the service, the bias for manned sys-
tems constitutes an abiding element of the service culture.

The Air Force’s institutional passion for technology and airplanes trans-
lates into a consistent prioritization of quality over quantity. For example, the
Air Force historically laments the age of its aircraft fleet rather than the num-
bers within that fleet.48 Builder aptly observes that to an Airman, “To be out-
numbered may be tolerable, but to be outflown is not. The way to get the
American flier’s attention is to confront him with a superior machine” (empha-
sis added).49 This observation echoes convincingly with current Airmen
whose service has labored mightily to procure the F-22 and F-35 to stay ahead
of foreign competition. Perry Smith agrees that aircraft superiority is the
prism through which many Airmen view national security.50 Ultimately, this
fascination with technology and airplanes bleeds into nearly every corner of
Air Force culture; in fact, several of the forthcoming tenets of Air Force cul-
ture are derivatives from this technological core.51

In light of these observations, the following basic assumption informs Air
Force organizational culture: The Air Force exists because of technology, and its
ongoing superiority is sustained by the ascendance of its technology. As the first
and most important machine, the manned airplane is the building block of the
force. While unmanned technologies have their place, the complexities of com-
bat require an actual—or virtual—human presence over the battlefield.

Autonomously Decisive

The technological DNA of the Air Force informs the next tenet of its cul-
ture: an abiding desire for politically unconstrained, uniquely decisive opera-
tions. Forged in the crucible of World War II, and spurred by a desire for
service autonomy, an unflinching commitment to strategic bombing domi-
nated the early decades of the Air Force.52 Even before World War II con-
cluded, the Army Air Corps commissioned a strategic bombing survey to
generate empirical evidence for its decisive impact.53 Neither tactical aviation
nor theater airlift motivated a postwar survey as strategic bombing did.54
Robert Jervis notes that an organization absorbs lessons most acutely when its
structure is altered or formed to learn a particular lesson from an event.55 The
Air Force’s history supports Jervis’s assertion; after the publication of the US
Strategic Bombing Survey, the doctrine of strategic bombing became the the-
ology of Strategic Air Command and, by extension, the Air Force as a whole.
Morton Halperin observes, for example, the curiosity of the Air Force’s blithe
treatment of the Berlin airlift.56 At a time when its public image was at its ze-

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

30

nith—having shown the world that America was both mighty and good—the
Air Force chose not to invest in or publicize its airlift capacity.57 Airlift seemed
a distraction from its principal focus on strategic bombing.58

The Airman’s love of technology and aircraft, coupled with an organiza-
tional commitment to strategic bombing, forged a focus on means instead of
ends. Historian Michael Sherry details this phenomenon in the context of
World War II: “The leaders and technicians of the American air force were
driven by technological fanaticism—a pursuit of destructive ends expressed,
sanctioned, and disguised by the organization and application of technologi-
cal means . . . In practice, they often waged destruction as a functional end in
itself, without a clear comprehension of its relationship to stated purposes.”59
Muting the Clausewitzian ideal of subordinating the violence of war to its
political purpose, Air Force leaders focused instead on the lethality of their
means. Sherry suggests that among the Air Force leadership of World War II
and the Cold War, “The task, not the purpose, of winning governed.”60 Mark
Clodfelter extends this trajectory into the modern era of precision-guided
weapons, noting the temptation such weapons might offer. He suggests that
the precision revolution creates “a modern vision of air power that focuses on
the lethality of its weaponry rather than on the weaponry’s effectiveness as a
political instrument.”61

One manifestation of this focus on means over ends is the Air Force’s dis-
comfort with political constraints. Paradoxically, the centralized control and
flexibility of airpower make it particularly malleable to nuanced political
pressure; however, the Air Force as an institution is acutely resistant to such
perceived interference. The nearly unconstrained political environment of to-
tal war in Germany and Japan molded an expectation for the right way to use
airpower. For Air Force leaders like Gen Curtis LeMay, “Politics (except for
the scramble for resources) ended when war began.”62 In future conflicts, the
precedent of a free political hand continued to inform Air Force expectations
in the straitjacket of limited war. During the Korean War, “Senior Air Force
leaders ‘chafed under the prospect of political constraints’ that reduced the
decisiveness of air power and surrendered initiative to the enemy.”63 Similarly,
after the frustrations of Vietnam, Air Force leaders insisted they could have
been more effective if they had been “free from political restraints.”64 More
recently, this discomfort with political constraints climaxed during the coer-
cive air campaign of Operation Allied Force. Subjecting every target list to the
political sensitivities of each country in the North Atlantic Treaty Organiza-
tion (NATO) spurred no shortage of frustration for senior Airmen.65 After the
war, Gen John Jumper commented on such politically constrained gradual
campaigns: “We hope to be able to convince politicians that is not the best

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

31

way to do it, but in some cases we are going to have to live with that situa-
tion.”66 Reflecting the consensus view throughout Air Force history, Jumper’s
remarks convey the idea of an air war as an autonomous military endeavor
with a “best way to do it,” rather than an inherently subordinate extension of
political activity.

In sum, the Air Force’s mastery of technology has motivated a desire to
unleash the full potential of that technology. The promise of airpower grips an
Airman’s imagination and motivates a passion to showcase that promise. His-
torically, therefore, Airmen have sought to master the means of war, unshack-
led from the tangled politics of its purpose. This is not to say that all Airmen
are uninterested in the political purposes of war, but it indicates a trend that
shapes the prevailing personality of the service. A basic assumption inform-
ing Air Force organizational culture is this: The Air Force has the power to
change the face of the earth. It can do what no other service can do. To realize its
true potential, the Air Force should be employed kinetically, offensively, over-
whelmingly, and with minimal political interference.

Future Oriented

The Air Force’s technological core predisposes a forward-looking orienta-
tion. As the youngest of the services, born from technological breakthrough,
the Air Force “identifies the past with obsolescence, and for the air weapon,
obsolescence equates to defeat.”67 Historian Tami Davis Biddle also detects
this tendency in Air Force thinking, noting “too great a readiness to focus on
the future without rigorously considering the past. This is an endemic prob-
lem in air forces, which develop their institutional identity around claims to
see and understand the future more clearly than other services do.”68 An orga-
nizational commitment to looking ahead pervades the Air Force culture.

The technological orientation of the service, however, fosters unintended
consequences. While the Air Force looks forward, its investment in high-
priced systems with long development times creates a counterintuitive con-
servatism. The service builds its doctrine and force structure around the ma-
chines and systems in its inventory; however, when emerging technologies
enable new doctrines or strategies, they threaten the viability of the Air Force’s
posture. Builder explains, “In fostering technology, even for its cherished in-
struments, the Air Force is necessarily instigating new concepts and capabili-
ties that challenge the form and preferences of its institution.”69 Mike Worden
notes a similar vulnerability for any service’s commitment to its doctrine.
During the golden age of Strategic Air Command’s dominance, the Air Force’s
commitment to strategic bombing stymied consideration of alternatives. “The

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

32

intense single-minded focus on their mission and their enemy advanced a
monistic perspective in an increasingly pluralistic world. Ironically, the senior
leaders had become steadfast conservatives in a service that professed to be
always forward looking.”70

Despite this discomfiting tendency for “adverse yaw,” the espoused belief of
future-orientation informs Air Force culture across the service.71 Conse-
quently, the third basic assumption of the Air Force’s organizational culture is
this: Technology and potential adversaries change quickly, and the Air Force
must orient forward to the unknown future instead of the forgotten past. The Air
Force must pursue next-generation systems today to be ready for tomorrow.

Occupationally Loyal

The Air Force’s technology-focused DNA replicates itself in the hearts of its
members.72 Builder asserts that the history of the Air Force is steeped in an
individual passion for flying more than an abiding loyalty to the institution.
He contends, “The air force identifies itself with flying and things that fly; the
institution is secondary, it is a means to those things. A brave band of intrepid
aviators, bonded primarily in the love of flight and flying machines, may have
a clear sense of themselves, but it is not so much an institutional as it is an
individual sense of self. And it is not focused so much on who they are as it is
on what they want to do.”73 Builder cites the volunteer aviators of the Lafayette
Escadrille, the Flying Tigers, and the RAF Eagle squadrons as examples of
noble men who served honorably but were motivated by their love of flying:
“The prospect of combat is not the essential draw; it is simply the justification
for having and flying these splendid machines.”74

Within the Air Force, this phenomenon gives rise to a “fractionated con-
federation of subcultures rather than a cohesive military service.”75 In his
study of Air Force cultural cohesion, James Smith notes the high level of oc-
cupational versus institutional loyalties, particularly among pilots.76 Because
the service is built around a visceral connection with unique machines, loyal-
ties migrate to those machines—and one’s experience of them—rather than to
the larger institution.77 Throughout the Air Force’s history, “People found
themselves in an institution because that was the place to do what they wanted
to do—to fly airplanes, to work on rockets, to develop missiles, to learn an
interesting or promising trade, etc.”78 A recent advertising campaign by the
Air Force reinforced this idea by showing young people pursuing their pas-
sions—snowboarding, bicycle racing, flying remote-controlled airplanes—
and then announcing, “We’ve been waiting for you.”79 The Air Force markets

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

33

itself as a venue for doing what you love—but higher, faster, and with a grander
purpose.

This occupational orientation often inspires loyalties to subgroups within
the larger Air Force. Because the Air Force maintains a diverse mission port-
folio in several war-fighting domains, unique subcultures have developed
within insulated commands. Then–Chief of Staff of the Air Force Merrill Mc-
Peak lamented, “People built loyalties around their commands—intense loyal-
ties in fact—rather than loyalties to air and space power as a whole, to a
broader, more comprehensive mission.”80 Air Force officer and historian Ed-
ward Mann observes the same about the service in 1990: “We were a conglom-
erate of specialists with greater loyalty to machines and sleeve patches than to
any single unifying theme or to the Air Force itself. . . . Over the years, we in
the Air Force had cloistered ourselves in occupational monasteries, efficiently
performing the rites of our orders with no sense of the church’s mission.”81
These dynamics suggest a hierarchy of overlapping motivations within the Air
Force culture; desires to serve the country, lead Airmen, fly an airplane, build
secure cyber networks, and control satellites all collide in a mosaic of motiva-
tions. Consequently, a basic assumption persists: The Air Force is an honorable
and patriotic means to practice a desirable high-tech trade. Loyalties to the trade,
machine, and subculture often outweigh loyalty to the institution.

Self-Aware

As the youngest of the military services, and one that fought hard for its
organizational autonomy, the Air Force is uniquely self-aware of its institu-
tional legitimacy. During its infancy as an organization, the Air Force’s adap-
tation to its external environment required fierce defense of its turf. Assigning
roles and missions among the services spawned fractious debate and bureau-
cratic wrangling.82 These dynamics imbued the Air Force with a sensitivity to
its rightful place in the pantheon of established military services. Builder
claims, “The Air Force . . . has always been most sensitive to defending or
guarding its legitimacy as an independent institution.”83 In fact, as recently as
December 2009, the chief of staff of the Air Force was seeking fresh articula-
tions of “why we need an independent Air Force.”84 Such a rhetorical exercise
indicates the service still suffers an unsteady conviction of its own institu-
tional legitimacy.

This self-aware posture subjects the service to periodic bouts of identity
crisis. In 1989, an unpublished white paper entitled “A View of the Air Force
Today” circulated throughout the Air Force. Its authors articulated an array of
concerns about the state of their service and ultimately concluded “the Air

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

34

Force seems to have lost its sense of identity and unique contribution.”85 Two
years later, the stunning success of Operation Desert Storm seemed to resolve
the crisis for the Air Force as it proved its decisive worth in dramatic fash-
ion.86 The institutional self-confidence, however, was short-lived. In a study
published by the Center for Strategic Budgetary Assessments in September
2009, Thomas Ehrhard concludes, “Today’s Air Force is experiencing an insti-
tutional identity crisis that places it at an historical nadir of confidence, repu-
tation, and influence.”87 Symptomatic of this crisis of confidence, Charles J.
Dunlap, Jr., likewise avers that many Airmen feel unappreciated by the other
services.88

These phenomena underscore the final basic assumption of Air Force orga-
nizational culture: Major combat operations are the best setting to showcase the
full potential of the independent Air Force. In any other venue, the Air Force
serves an essential supporting role in which it is largely taken for granted. Dur-
ing these times of invisible contribution, the Air Force must actively articulate its
relevance to the nation and itself.

In sum, these five attributes capture much of the prevailing personality of
the Air Force, rooted in its collective history, enduring over time, from which
it forms a basis for future action: technology centered, autonomously deci-
sive, future oriented, occupationally loyal, and self-aware of its legitimacy.
Given the power of organizational culture to shape and sustain preferences,
these five tenets are hypothesized to inform past and future Air Force policies.
It should be noted again, however, that a distinctive feature of Air Force his-
tory and culture is the prominence of its subcultures. As Mike Worden dem-
onstrates, the first half of the Air Force’s life witnessed a dominant bomber
subculture, while the second half has been dominated by the fighter culture.89
These dominant tribes exerted powerful influence on the service’s culture writ
large, but the five features described above appear to be consistent across both
eras of Air Force history. Despite the inherent subculture differences within
the service, in matters of substantive policy the Air Force speaks—and has
spoken—with one voice.90 Consequently, these five assumptions subsume the
variations of the subcultures, and they are postulated as enduring elements of
the Air Force’s organizational culture.

In the following case studies, the analysis will test various policy decisions
for their consonance with these five enduring assumptions. The working hy-
pothesis of this paper suggests that policies consistent with the Air Force’s
basic assumptions will engender working, while policies counter to Air Force
cultural assumptions will set the conditions for shirking.

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

35

Conclusion

This chapter established the theoretical basis for considering organiza-
tional culture as an explanatory variable in shaping a military service’s deci-
sion to work or shirk. As organizations adapt to their external environment
and manage their internal processes, a pervasive culture develops to make
sense of “how things are around here.”91 Like a paradigm in research science,
organizational culture provides a mental model for viewing the world, largely
determining what questions are asked, what answers are given, and what data
are determined to be outliers. For insular military organizations, the impact
of service culture is uniquely potent and pervasive. A service’s culture affects
how it is structured, what it buys, and how it fights. In the context of civil-
military relations, organizational culture shapes a military service’s calcula-
tion of self-interest, informing its decision to work or shirk. While agency
theory provides the top-down rational framework, this chapter demonstrates
the power of organizational culture to inform a service’s bottom-up concep-
tion of its own interest and policy preferences.

The foundation for case study analysis has therefore been laid. The theory
of civil-military relations explored the dynamics of two-tiered delegation in a
democracy and the imperatives of military subordination. Agency theory
supplied a rational framework for considering the context of incentives, creat-
ing a useful continuum of working and shirking. The theory of organizational
culture demonstrated the power of culture to shape a military service’s policy
preference within that rational framework. Finally, this chapter concluded
with five basic assumptions of Air Force culture, suggested by its artifacts and
espoused beliefs, and forged in its adaptation to the external environment.
With this unique culture in view, the following two chapters present case
studies of the Air Force between 1990 and 2008, testing the explanatory power
of Air Force culture to shape its decision to work or shirk the civilians’ na-
tional security policy.

Notes

1. Elizabeth Kier, Imagining War: French and British Military Doctrine between the Wars
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997), 3.

2. James M. Smith, “Air Force Culture and Cohesion: Building an Air and Space Force for
the Twenty-First Century,” Airpower Journal 12, no. 3 (Fall 1998): 40–53.

3. Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-
Bass, 2004), 7.

4. Ibid., 12–13.
5. Ibid., 14.
6. Ibid., 15.

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

36

7. Ibid., 17.
8. James Q. Wilson, Bureaucracy: What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It (New

York: Basic Books, 1989), 91. The idea of organizational “personality” is also the dominant
metaphor throughout Carl H. Builder, The Masks of War: American Military Styles in Strategy
and Analysis (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).

9. Ann Swidler, “Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies,” American Sociological Review
51, no. 2 (April 1986): 277.

10. Kim S. Cameron and Robert E. Quinn, Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Cul-
ture: Based on the Competing Values Framework (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1999), 14.

11. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership, 25.
12. Ibid., 28.
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid., 31. Schein attributes the expression “theories-in-use” to the work of Chris Argyris.
15. Ibid., 87.
16. Ibid., 32.
17. See Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chi-

cago, 1996). This connection between organizational culture and scientific paradigms is made
explicitly in Jeffrey W. Legro, “Military Culture and Inadvertent Escalation in World War II,”
International Security 18, no. 4 (Spring 1994):116.

18. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 10.
19. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership, 8.
20. Morton H. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy (Washington, DC: The

Brookings Institution, 1974), 39. Halperin speaks of organizational “essence,” which is similar
to this study’s definition of “culture.” See also Wilson, Bureaucracy, 101.

21. Wilson, Bureaucracy, 101.
22. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, 39.
23. Barry Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany between

the World Wars (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984) and Graham Allison and Philip
Zelikow, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (New York: Longman, 1999).

24. Jeffrey W. Legro, “Military Culture and Inadvertent Escalation in World War II,” 110.
25. Posen, Sources of Military Doctrine, 46.
26. Williamson Murray, “Does Military Culture Matter?” Orbis 43, no. 1 (Winter 1999): 34.
27. Stephen P. Rosen, Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military (Ithaca,

NY: Cornell University Press, 1991), 19.
28. For further commentary on the need to disaggregate the military into its culturally

significant components, see Theo Farrell, “Figuring Out Fighting Organisations: The New Or-
ganisational Analysis in Strategic Studies,” Journal of Strategic Studies 19, no. 1 (1996): 122–35;
Deborah D. Avant, Political Institutions and Military Change: Lessons from Peripheral Wars
(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994), 14; Adam N. Stulberg and Michael D. Salomone,
Managing Defense Transformation: Agency, Culture and Service Change (Burlington, VT: Ash-
gate, 2007), 20; and Jeffrey Legro, Cooperation under Fire: Anglo-German Restraint during
World War II (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995).

29. James Smith, “Air Force Culture and Cohesion,” 41.
30. Larry R. Donnithorne, The West Point Way of Leadership: From Learning Principled

Leadership to Practicing It (New York: Currency Doubleday, 1994), 20–22.
31. Kier, Imagining War, 29.
32. Builder, The Masks of War, 3.

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

37

33. Ibid., 5.
34. John A. Nagl, Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Ma-

laya and Vietnam (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
35. Legro, “Military Culture and Inadvertent Escalation in World War II.”
36. Ibid., 117.
37. Ibid., 126. This case is made at length in Legro, Cooperation under Fire.
38. Kier, Imagining War, 38. Zisk undertakes a similar cultural analysis of Soviet doctrinal

development in Kimberly M. Zisk, Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Mili-
tary Innovation, 1955-1991 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993).

39. Builder, The Masks of War, 6.
40. Stulberg and Salomone, Managing Defense Transformation, 24.
41. Chris Argyris, quoted in Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership, 31.
42. Builder, The Masks of War, 19.
43. Smith, “Air Force Culture and Cohesion,” 13.
44. Perry M. Smith, The Air Force Plans for Peace, 1943-1945 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hop-

kins Press, 1970), 18.
45. Quoted in Carl H. Builder, The Icarus Syndrome: The Role of Air Power Theory in the

Evolution and Fate of the U.S. Air Force (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1994), 162.
46. There were pockets of enthusiasm for both systems, but the institutional inertia weighed

against them. The story of Air Force corporate resistance to the ICBM is detailed in Neil Shee-
han, A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon (New York:
Random House, 2009). For a discussion of resistance to both systems based on organizational
identity, see Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 1976).

47. Quoted in Builder, The Icarus Syndrome, 163.
48. Builder, The Masks of War, 22. For a current lament on the age of Air Force aircraft, see

Thomas Ehrhard, An Air Force Strategy for the Long Haul (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic
and Budgetary Assessments, 2009), accessed 18 Feb 2010, http://www.csbaonline.org/4Publications/
PubLibrary/R.20090917.An_Air_Force_Strat/R.20090917.An_Air_Force_Strat.pdf.

49. Ibid., 22.
50. Smith, The Air Force Plans for Peace, 52.
51. For additional observations of the primacy of technology, see Charles J. Dunlap, Jr.,

“Understanding Airmen: A Primer for Soldiers,” Military Review, September–October 2007;
and Michael Worden, Rise of the Fighter Generals: The Problem of Air Force Leadership, 1945-
1982 (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1998), 36.

52. Smith, The Air Force Plans for Peace, 17.
53. David MacIsaac, Strategic Bombing in World War Two: The Story of the United States

Strategic Bombing Survey (New York: Garland, 1976).
54. Worden, Rise of the Fighter Generals, 17.
55. Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics, 239.
56. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, 31.
57. Andrei Cherny, The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America’s

Finest Hour (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008), 511.
58. Halperin, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy, 31.
59. Michael S. Sherry, The Rise of American Air Power: The Creation of Armageddon (New

Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987), 251–52.
60. Ibid., 180.

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THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

38

61. Mark Clodfelter, The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam
(New York: Free Press, 1989), 203.

62. Sherry, The Rise of American Air Power, 180.
63. Worden, Rise of the Fighter Generals, 43.
64. Tami Davis Biddle, Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare: The Evolution of British and

American Ideas about Strategic Bombing, 1914-1945 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press,
2002), 299. Echoed in Worden, Rise of the Fighter Generals, 169.

65. Dag Henriksen, NATO’s Gamble: Combining Diplomacy and Airpower in the Kosovo
Crisis, 1998-1999 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2007).

66. Quoted in Paul C. Strickland, “USAF Aerospace-Power Doctrine: Decisive or Coer-
cive?” Aerospace Power Journal 14, no. 3 (Fall 2000): 13–25.

67. Dunlap, “Understanding Airmen,” 127.
68. Biddle, Rhetoric and Reality, 291.
69. Builder, The Icarus Syndrome, 161.
70. Worden, Rise of the Fighter Generals, 145.
71. “Adverse yaw” refers to an aerodynamic property in which an aircraft’s rolling motion

in one direction creates a yawing motion in the opposite direction.
72. The discussion of this tenet does not impugn the patriotic motives of any Air Force

member but paints a broad outline of historic trends across the service.
73. Builder, The Masks of War, 37.
74. Ibid., 23.
75. Smith, “Air Force Culture and Cohesion,” 22.
76. “Occupational” orientation refers to a primary loyalty to the task or occupation,

whereas an “institutional” orientation gives chief loyalty to the institution itself over the task
performed within that institution.

77. For greater historical background on the genesis of this subculture phenomenon, see
Builder, The Icarus Syndrome.

78. Builder, The Icarus Syndrome, 35.
79. Melanie Streeter, “ ‘We’ve Been Waiting’ Campaign Returns to Television,” Airman, No-

vember 2004, 9.
80. Quoted in Worden, Rise of the Fighter Generals, 235.
81. Edward C. Mann, Thunder and Lightning: Desert Storm and the Airpower Debates

(Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University Press, 1995), 163.
82. For a full discussion of this time period, see Jeffrey G. Barlow, Revolt of the Admirals:

The Fight for Naval Aviation, 1945–1950 (Washington, DC: Brassey’s, 1998).
83. Builder, The Masks of War, 27.
84. Greg Jaffe, “Combat Generation: Drone Operators Climb on Winds of Change in the Air

Force,” Washington Post, 28 February 2010, accessed 1 March 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.
com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/27/AR2010022703754.html.

85. Quoted in Builder, The Icarus Syndrome, 5.
86. Ibid., 10.
87. Ehrhard, “An Air Force Strategy for the Long Haul,” 28.
88. Dunlap, “Understanding Airmen,” 126.
89. Worden, Rise of the Fighter Generals.
90. This assertion is intended to clarify a useful level of analysis. While studying civil-

military relations at the service level adds value to the literature, parsing the Air Force even
further (to the subculture level) would unhelpfully complicate the analysis.

91. Cameron and Quinn, Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture, 14.

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Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values

Author(s): Ronald Inglehart and Wayne E. Baker

Source: American Sociological Review , Feb., 2000, Vol. 65, No. 1, Looking Forward,
Looking Back: Continuity and Change at the Turn of the Millenium (Feb., 2000), pp. 19-
51

Published by: American Sociological Association

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MODERNIZATION, CULTURAL CHANGE,

AND THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES*

Ronald Inglehart Wayne E. Baker
University of Michigan University of Michigan

Modernization theorists from Karl Marx to Daniel Bell have argued that

economic development brings pervasive cultural changes. But others, from

Max Weber to Samuel Huntington, have claimed that cultural values are an

enduring and autonomous influence on society. We test the thesis that eco-

nomic development is linked with systematic changes in basic values. Using

data from the three waves of the World Values Surveys, which include 65

societies and 75 percent of the world’s population, we find evidence of both

massive cultural change and the persistence of distinctive cultural tradi-

tions. Economic development is associated with shifts away from absolute

norms and values toward values that are increasingly rational, tolerant,

trusting, and participatory. Cultural change, however, is path dependent.

The broad cultural heritage of a society-Protestant, Roman Catholic, Or-

thodox, Confucian, or Communist-leaves an imprint on values that endures

despite modernization. Moreover, the differences between the values held by

members of different religions within given societies are much smaller than

are cross-national differences. Once established, such cross-cultural differ-

ences become part of a national culture transmitted by educational institu-

tions and mass media. We conclude with some proposed revisions of mod-

ernization theory.

he last decades of the twentieth century

were not kind to modernization theory,
once widely considered a powerful tool for
peering into the future of industrial society.
Modernization theory’s most influential pro-
ponent, Karl Marx, claimed that economi-
cally developed societies show the future to
less developed societies (Marx 1973). His
prophecies have had enormous impact, but as
the twenty-first century begins, few people
anticipate a proletarian revolution or trust a
state-run economy. Furthermore, although
theorists from Marx to Nietzsche to Lerner
to Bell predicted the decline of religion in the
wake of modernization, religion and spiritual
beliefs have not faded. Instead, social and
political debate about religious and emotion-

ally charged issues such as abortion and eu-

thanasia have grown increasingly salient

(DiMaggio, Evans, and Bryson 1996; Hunter

1991; Williams 1997), and a resurgence of

fundamentalist Islam has established a major
cleavage in international politics.

Well into the twentieth century, modern-
ization was widely viewed as a uniquely

Western process that non-Western societies
could follow only in so far as they aban-
doned their traditional cultures and assimi-
lated technologically and morally “superior”

Western ways. But during the second half of
the century, non-Western societies unexpect-

edly surpassed their Western role models in
key aspects of modernization. East Asia, for

example, attained the world’s highest rate of
economic growth. Using official exchange
rates, Japan had the highest per capita in-

come of any major nation in the world, led
the world in automobile manufacturing and

consumer electronics, and had the world’s
highest life expectancy. Today, few observ-
ers would attribute moral superiority to the

* Direct all correspondence to Ronald Inglehart,
Institute for Social Research, University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48106-1248
([email protected]). The authors express their
thanks to Gary Hamilton and Randy Stokes and

to the anonymous ASR reviewers, for helpful
comments.

American Sociological Review, 2000, Vol. 65 (February: 19-5 1) 19

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20 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

West, and Western economies are no longer

assumed to be the model for the world.

Nevertheless, a core concept of modern-
ization theory seems valid today: Industrial-

ization produces pervasive social and cul-

tural consequences, from rising educational

levels to changing gender roles. Industrial-

ization is seen as the central element of a

modernization process that affects most other

elements of society. Marx’s failures as a

prophet are well documented, but he cor-

rectly foresaw that industrialization would

transform the world. When he was writing

Das Kapital (1867), only a handful of soci-

eties were industrialized; today, there are

dozens of advanced industrial societies, and

almost every society on Earth is at some
stage of the industrialization process.

Our thesis is that economic development

has systematic and, to some extent, predict-

able cultural and political consequences.
These consequences are not iron laws of his-
tory; they are probabilistic trends. Neverthe-
less, the probability is high that certain
changes will occur, once a society has em-

barked on industrialization. We explore this
thesis using data from the World Values Sur-

veys. These surveys include 65 societies and
more than 75 percent of the world’s popula-

tion. They provide time-series data from the

earliest wave in 1981 to the most recent

wave completed in 1998, offering new and
rich insights into the relationships between
economic development and social and politi-
cal change.

MODERNIZATION OR THE
PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL
VALUES?

In recent years, research and theory on so-
cioeconomic development have given rise to
two contending schools of thought. One
school emphasizes the convergence of values
as a result of “modernization”-the over-
whelming economic and political forces that
drive cultural change. This school predicts
the decline of traditional values and their re-
placement with “modern” values. The other

school of thought emphasizes the persistence
of traditional values despite economic and
political changes. This school assumes that
values are relatively independent of eco-
nomic conditions (DiMaggio 1994). Conse-

quently, it predicts that convergence around
some set of “modern” values is unlikely and
that traditional values will continue to exert

an independent influence on the cultural

changes caused by economic development.
In the postwar United States, a version of

modernization theory emerged that viewed

underdevelopment as a direct consequence of

a country’s internal characteristics: tradi-

tional economies, traditional psychological

and cultural traits, and traditional institutions

(Lerner 1958; Weiner 1966). From this per-
spective, traditional values were not only
mutable but could-and should-be replaced

by modern values, enabling these societies to
follow the (virtually inevitable) path of capi-
talist development. The causal agents in this
developmental process were seen as the rich,

developed nations that stimulate the modern-

ization of “backward” nations through eco-
nomic, cultural, and military assistance.

These arguments were criticized as blam-
ing the victim, because modernization theo-

rists assumed that underdeveloped societies
needed to adopt “modern” values and insti-
tutions to become developed societies
(Bradshaw and Wallace 1996). Moderniza-
tion theory was not only criticized, it was

pronounced dead (Wallerstein 1976). The
postwar version of modernization theory
tended to neglect external factors, such as
colonialism, imperialism, and newer forms
of economic and political domination. The
emerging neo-Marxist and world-systems
theorists emphasized the extent to which rich
countries exploited poor countries, locking
them in positions of powerlessness and struc-
tural dependence (Chase-Dunn 1989; Chirot
1977, 1994; Frank 1966; Wallerstein 1974).
Underdevelopment, as Frank put it, is devel-
oped. This new school of thought conveyed
the message to poor countries that poverty
has nothing to do with internal problems-it
is the fault of global capitalism.

World-systems theory itself has not been
immune from criticism. For example, Evans
(1995) argues that the global division of la-
bor offers opportunities as well as con-
straints, enabling developing nations to
transform themselves and change their posi-
tions in the global economy. The involve-
ment of multinational corporations in under-
developed nations does not appear to be as
harmful as world-systems theorists claim. In

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 21

fact, foreign investment has been found to

stimulate growth (DeSoya and Oneal 1999;

Firebaugh 1992) and improve national wel-

fare, benefiting the masses, not just the elites

(Firebaugh and Beck 1994). Hein (1992) and

Dollar (1992) demonstrate that those with

high levels of trade and investment from

capitalist countries showed higher subse-
quent rates of economic growth than did
other countries (also see Firebaugh 1999).

The central claim of modernization theory

is that economic development is linked with

coherent and, to some extent, predictable
changes in culture and social and political
life. Evidence from around the world indi-

cates that economic development tends to
propel societies in a roughly predictable di-
rection: Industrialization leads to occupa-

tional specialization, rising educational lev-
els, rising income levels, and eventually
brings unforeseen changes-changes in gen-
der roles, attitudes toward authority and
sexual norms; declining fertility rates;

broader political participation; and less eas-

ily led publics. Determined elites in control

of the state and the military can resist these
changes, but in the long run, it becomes in-
creasingly costly to do so and the probability
of change rises.1

But cultural change does not take the

simple linear path envisioned by Marx, who
assumed that the working class would con-
tinue to grow until a proletarian revolution
brought an end to history. In 1956, the
United States became the world’s first soci-

ety to have a majority of its labor force em-

ployed in the service sector. During the next

few decades, practically all OECD (Organi-

zation for Economic Cooperation and Devel-
opment) countries followed suit, becoming
“post-industrial” societies, in Bell’s (1973)

terms. These changes in the nature of work

had major political and cultural conse-

quences (Bell 1973, 1976; Dahrendorf 1959).

In marked contrast to the growing material-
ism linked with the industrial revolution, the

unprecedented existential security of ad-
vanced industrial society gave rise to an

intergenerational shift toward postmaterialist
and postmodern values (Inglehart 1977,
1990, 1997). While industrialization was
linked with an emphasis on economic growth

at almost any price, the publics of affluent

societies placed increasing emphasis on

quality-of-life, environmental protection,
and self-expression. Bell emphasized
changes in the nature of work, while
Inglehart emphasized the consequences of

economic security; but they and others
agreed that cultural change in postindustrial
society was moving in a new direction. Ac-

cordingly, we suggest that economic devel-
opment gives rise to not just one, but two
main dimensions of cross-cultural differen-
tiation: a first dimension linked with early
industrialization and the rise of the working
class; a second dimension that reflects the
changes linked with the affluent conditions
of advanced industrial society and with the
rise of the service and knowledge sectors.

The shift from preindustrial to industrial
society wrought profound changes in
people’s daily experiences and prevailing
worldviews (Bell 1973; Inglehart 1997; Spier
1996). Preindustrial life, Bell (1976) argues,
was a “game against nature” in which “one’s
sense of the world is conditioned by the vi-
cissitudes of the elements-the seasons, the
storms, the fertility of the soil, the amount of
water, the depth of the mine seams, the
droughts and the floods” (p. 147). Industrial-
ization brought less dependence on nature,
which had been seen as inscrutable, capri-
cious, uncontrollable forces or anthropomor-
phic spirits. Life now became a “game
against fabricated nature” (Bell 1973:147), a
technical, mechanical, rationalized, bureau-
cratic world directed toward the external

problem of creating and dominating the en-
vironment. As human control of the environ-

1 Paradoxically, modernization can actually
strengthen traditional values. Elites in underde-
veloped nations who attempt to mobilize a popu-
lation for social change often use traditional cul-
tural appeals, as in Japan’s Meiji Restoration.
More recently, radical reformist groups in Alge-
ria used Islam to gain peasant support, but as an
unintended result strengthened fundamentalist re-
ligious values (Stokes and Marshall 1981). Thus,
cultural identity can be used to promote the inter-
ests of a group (Bernstein 1997) and in the pro-
cess may strengthen cultural diversity. Generally,

“[a]s global integration intensifies, the currents of
multiculturalism swirl faster. Under these condi-
tions, which include the juxtaposition of ethni-
cally distinct labor forces and communities, the
politics of identity tends to substitute for the civic
(universalist) politics of nation-building”
(McMichael 1996:42).

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22 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

ment increased, the role ascribed to religion
and God dwindled. Materialistic ideologies
arose with secular interpretations of history,
and secular utopias were to be attained by
human engineering operating through ratio-
nally organized bureaucratic organizations.

The emergence of postindustrial society

seems to be stimulating further evolution of
prevailing worldviews, but it is moving in a
different direction. Life in postindustrial so-
cieties centers on services, and hence life be-
comes a “game between persons” in which
people “live more and more outside nature,
and less and less with machinery and things;
they live with, and encounter only, one an-
other” (Bell 1973:148-49). Less effort is fo-
cused on producing material objects, and
more effort is focused on communicating and
processing information. Most people spend
their productive hours dealing with other
people and symbols. Increasingly, one’s for-
mal education and job experience
help develop the potential for autonomous
decision-making (Bell 1973, 1976). Thus,
the rise of postindustrial society leads to a
growing emphasis on self-expression
(Inglehart 1997). The hierarchical organiza-
tions of the industrial age required (and al-
lowed) little autonomous judgment, whereas
service and knowledge workers deal with
people and concepts, operating in a world in
which innovation and the freedom to exer-
cise individual judgment are essential. Self-
expression becomes central. Furthermore,
the historically unprecedented wealth of ad-
vanced industrial societies, coupled with the
rise of the welfare state, mean that an in-
creasing share of the population grows up
taking survival for granted. Their value pri-
orities shift from an overwhelming emphasis
on economic and physical security toward an
increasing emphasis on subjective well-being
and quality-of-life (Inglehart 1977, 1997).
Thus, cultural change is not linear; with the
coming of postindustrial society, it moves in
a new direction.

Different societies follow different trajec-
tories even when they are subjected to the
same forces of economic development, in
part because situation-specific factors, such
as cultural heritage, also shape how a par-
ticular society develops. Weber ([1904]
1958) argued that traditional religious values
have an enduring influence on the institu-

tions of a society. Following this tradition,

Huntington (1993, 1996) argues that the

world is divided into eight major civiliza-
tions or “cultural zones” based on cultural
differences that have persisted for centuries.
These zones were shaped by religious tradi-

tions that are still powerful today, despite the
forces of modernization. The zones are West-
ern Christianity, the Orthodox world, the Is-
lamic world, and the Confucian, Japanese,

Hindu, African, and Latin American zones.
Scholars from various disciplines have ob-

served that distinctive cultural traits endure
over long periods of time and continue to
shape a society’s political and economic per-
formance. For example, Putnam (1993)
shows that the regions of Italy in which
democratic institutions function most suc-
cessfully today are those in which civil soci-
ety was relatively well developed in the nine-
teenth century and even earlier. Fukuyama
(1995) argues that a cultural heritage of
“low-trust” puts a society at a competitive

disadvantage in global markets because it is
less able to develop large and complex so-
cial institutions. Hamilton (1994) argues
that, although capitalism has become an al-
most universal way of life, civilizational fac-
tors continue to structure the organization of
economies and societies: “What we witness
with the development of a global economy is
not increasing uniformity, in the form of a
universalization of Western culture, but
rather the continuation of civilizational di-
versity through the active reinvention and
reincorporation of non-Western civilizational

patterns” (p. 184). Thus, there are striking
cross-cultural variations in the organization
of capitalist production and associated mana-
gerial ideologies (DiMaggio 1994; Guillen
1994).

The impression that we are moving toward
a uniform “McWorld” is partly an illusion.
As Watson (1998) demonstrates, the seem-
ingly identical McDonald’s restaurants that
have spread throughout the world actually
have different social meanings and fulfill dif-
ferent social functions in different cultural

zones. Although the physical settings are
similar, eating in a McDonald’s restaurant in
Japan is a different social experience from
eating in one in the United States or Europe
or China. The globalization of communica-
tions is unmistakable, but precisely because

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 23

its manifestations are so obvious, its effects

may be overestimated. While it is obvious

that young people around the world are wear-
ing jeans and listening to U.S. pop music, the

persistence of underlying value differences is
less apparent.

THE EVIDENCE

Data

Our main data source is the World Values

Surveys, the largest investigation ever con-
ducted of attitudes, values, and beliefs
around the world. This study carried out
three waves of representative national sur-

veys: in 1981-1982, 1990-1991, and 1995-
1998. It covers 65 countries on all six inhab-

ited continents, and contains more than 75
percent of the world’s population. These so-
cieties have per capita annual gross national
products ranging from $300 to more than
$30,000, and their political systems range
from long-established stable democracies to
authoritarian states.

We use the most recent data for the 65
countries. Data for the following 50 societ-
ies are from the 1995-1998 wave: United
States, Australia, New Zealand, China, Ja-
pan, Taiwan, South Korea, Turkey, Bangla-
desh, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Arme-
nia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Great Britain, East
Germany, West Germany, Switzerland, Nor-
way, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Russia,

Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,
Moldova, Poland, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Slo-
venia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Ni-
geria, South Africa, Ghana, Argentina, Bra-
zil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic,
Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Ven-
ezuela. Most of the 1995-1998 surveys were
carried out in 1996, but Argentina, Australia,
China, Croatia, Ghana, Nigeria, Japan,
Puerto Rico, Russia, Slovenia, Taiwan and
the United States were surveyed in 1995; Ar-
menia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, West and
East Germany, Macedonia, Pakistan and Po-
land were surveyed in 1997; Bosnia, Great
Britain and New Zealand were surveyed in
1998. Data for 15 societies are from the 1990

European Values Survey: Canada, France,
Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium,
Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland,
Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia,

and Romania. The number of respondents in-

terviewed in these surveys averages about
1,400 per country. These data are available

from the Inter-university Consortium for Po-

litical and Social Research (ICPSR) survey

data archive at the University of Michigan.2

Measures

Our thesis implies that economic develop-

ment is linked with a broad syndrome of dis-

tinctive value orientations. Does such a syn-
drome exist? Inglehart (1997) analyzed ag-
gregated nation-level data from the 43 soci-

eties included in the 1990-1991 World Val-
ues Survey and found large and coherent

cross-cultural differences. The two most im-
portant dimensions that emerged tapped
scores of variables and demonstrated that the
worldviews of the peoples of rich societies
differ systematically from those of low-in-
come societies across a wide range of politi-
cal, social, and religious norms and beliefs.
These two dimensions reflect cross-national
polarization between traditional versus secu-
lar-rational orientations toward authority;
and survival versus self-expression values.

Each society can be located on a global map
of cross-cultural variation based on these two
dimensions (Inglehart 1997:81-98).

We use the term “traditional” in a specific
sense here. In the course of human history,
thousands of societies have existed, most of
which are now extinct. These societies had a
vast range of characteristics. Infanticide was
common in hunting and gathering societies,
but became rare in agrarian societies; homo-
sexuality was accepted in some preindustrial
societies; and women are believed to have
dominated political and social life in some
preindustrial societies. Although the full
range of “traditions” is diverse, a mainstream
version of preindustrial society having a
number of common characteristics can be
identified. All of the preindustrial societies
for which we have data show relatively low
levels of tolerance for abortion, divorce, and
homosexuality; tend to emphasize male
dominance in economic and political life,
deference to parental authority, and the im-

2 For further information about these surveys,
see the World Values Survey web site (http://
wvs .isr.umich.edu).

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24 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

Table 1. Items Characterizing Two Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Variation: Nation-Level Analysis

Factor Loadings

Dimension and Item Nation Level Individual Level

Traditional vs. Secular-Rational Valuesa

TRADITIONAL VALUES EMPHASIZE THE FOLLOWING:

God is very important in respondent’s life. .91 .70

It is more important for a child to learn obedience and religious .89 .61
faith than independence and determinations

Abortion is never justifiable. .82 .61

Respondent has strong sense of national pride. .82 .60

Respondent favors more respect for authority. .72 .51

(SECULAR-RATIONAL VALUES EMPHASIZE THE OPPOSITE)

Survival vs. Self-Expression Values c

SURVIVAL VALUES EMPHASIZE THE FOLLOWING:

Respondent gives priority to economic and physical security over .86 .59
self-expression and quality-of-life.d

Respondent describes self as not very happy. – .81 – .58

Respondent has not signed and would not sign a petition. .80 – .59

Homosexuality is never justifiable. .78 – .54

You have to be very careful about trusting people. .56 – .44

(SELF-EXPRESSION VALUES EMPHASIZE THE OPPOSITE)

Source: Nation-level and individual-level data from 65 societies surveyed in the 1990-1991 and 1995-
1998 World Values Surveys.

Note: The original polarities vary. The above statements show how each item relates to the given dimen-
sion, based on a factor analysis with varimax rotation. Number of cases for nation-level analysis is 65; total
N for individual-level is 165,594 (smallest N for any of the above items is 146,789).

a Explains 44 percent of cross-national variation, and 26 percent of individual-level variation.

b Autonomy index.

c Explains 26 percent of the cross-national variation, and 13 percent of the individual-level variation.

d Measured by the four-item materialist/postmaterialist values index.

portance of family life, and are relatively au-

thoritarian; most of them place strong em-
phasis on religion. Advanced industrial soci-

eties tend to have the opposite characteris-
tics. It would be a gross oversimplification

to assume that all known preindustrial soci-
eties had similar characteristics, but one can

meaningfully contrast the cultural character-

istics of industrial societies with those of this

mainstream version of preindustrial society.

There are various ways to measure the

character of societal cultures. We build on
prior findings by constructing comparable

measures of cross-cultural variation that can

be used with all three waves of the World

Values Surveys at both the individual level
and the national level. Starting with the vari-

ables identified in analysis of the 1990-1991

surveys, we selected variables that not only

tapped these two dimensions, but appeared

in the same format in all three waves of the
World Values Surveys. Inglehart (1997) used

factor scores based on 22 variables, but we

reduced this number to 10 items to minimize
problems of missing data (if one variable
were missing, we would lose an entire nation
from the analysis).

Table 1 lists the 10 items that tap the tradi-
tional versus secular-rational dimension and
the survival versus self-expression dimen-
sion, using a factor analysis of the World
Values Survey data aggregated to the na-

tional level.3 The items in each dimension

3 To avoid dropping an entire society from our
analysis when one of these variables is not avail-

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 25

are highly intercorrelated. The two dimen-

sions explain 70 percent of the total cross-
national variation among these 10 variables.
This holds true despite the fact that we de-
liberately selected items covering a wide

range of topics. For the traditional/secular-

rational dimension, for example, we could

have selected five items referring to religion

and obtained an even more tightly correlated
cluster, but our goal was to measure broad
dimensions of cross-cultural variation.

The factor scores generated by the 10

items used in this analysis are highly corre-

lated with the factor scores based on the 22
items used by Inglehart (1997:334-35, 388).
The traditional/secular-rational dimension
based on the five items used here is almost

perfectly correlated (r = .95) with the factor
scores from the comparable dimension based
on 11 variables; and the survival/self-expres-
sion dimension based on five variables is al-
most perfectly correlated (r = .96) with the
survival/self-expression dimension based on
11 variables.

Table 1 also shows the results from a fac-
tor analysis of the same variables using the
individual-level data. Instead of 123 cases,
we now have 165,594 cases. As expected, the
factor loadings are considerably lower than
those at the national level, where much of the
random measurement error normally found
in survey data cancels out. Nevertheless,
these items produce two clearly defined di-
mensions with a basic structure similar to
that found at the national level.

Each factor taps a broad dimension of

cross-cultural variation involving dozens of

additional variables. Table 2 shows 24 addi-

tional variables in the World Values Survey

that are closely correlated with the tradi-

tional/secular-rational values dimension (the

median correlation is .61). This dimension

reflects the contrast between societies in

which religion is very important and those in

which it is not, but deference to the authority
of God, Fatherland and Family are all closely
linked.4 The importance of the family is a

major theme: In traditional societies a main

goal in life is to make one’s parents proud-
one must always love and respect one’s par-

ents, regardless of how they behave. Con-
versely parents must do their best for their

children even if their own well-being suffers.
People in traditional societies idealize large

families, and they actually have them (high
scores on this dimension are strongly corre-
lated with high fertility rates). Yet although

the people of traditional societies have high
levels of national pride, favor more respect
for authority, take protectionist attitudes to-
ward foreign trade, and feel that environmen-

tal problems can be solved without interna-
tional agreements, they accept national au-
thority passively: They seldom or never dis-
cuss politics. In preindustrial societies the
family is crucial to survival. Accordingly,
societies at the traditional pole of this dimen-
sion reject divorce and take a pro-life stance
on abortion, euthanasia, and suicide. They
emphasize social conformity rather than in-
dividualistic striving, believe in absolute
standards of good and evil, support deference
to authority, and have high levels of national
pride and a nationalistic outlook. Societies
with secular-rational values have the oppo-
site preferences on all of these topics.

The survival/self-expression dimension
taps a syndrome of trust, tolerance, subjec-
tive well-being, political activism, and self-
expression that emerges in postindustrial so-
cieties with high levels of security. At the

able, the nation-level aggregate dataset (but not
the individual-level dataset) sometimes uses re-

sults from another survey in the same country.
For example, the materialist/posmaterialist bat-

tery was not included in the 1981 surveys in the
United States and Australia, but this battery was
included in the 1980 national election surveys in

both countries, and the results are used in these
cases. When this option was not available, we
ranked all societies on the variable most closely

correlated with the missing variable and assigned
the mean score of the two adjacent countries in
this ranking. For example, the 1997 Bangladesh
survey omitted a variable rating the acceptability
of homosexuality (V197); but it did include a
variable on homosexuals as a group one would
not like to have as neighbors (V60). Nigeria and

Georgia were the two closest-ranking societies on
V60, so Bangladesh was assigned the mean of
Nigeria’s and Georgia’s scores on V197.

4These 65 societies show a tremendous amount
of variation. In Pakistan, 90 percent of the popu-
lation say that God is extremely important in their
lives, selecting “10” on a 10-point scale; in both
Brazil and Nigeria, 87 percent select this extreme

position on the scale; in East Germany and Ja-
pan, on the other hand, only 6 percent and 5 per-
cent, respectively, take this position.

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26 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

Table 2. Correlation of Additional Items with the Traditional/Secular-Rational Values Dimension

Item Correlation

TRADITIONAL VALUES EMPHASIZE THE FOLLOWING:

Religion is very important in respondent’s life. .89

Respondent believes in Heaven. .88

One of respondent’s main goals in life has been to make his/her parents proud. .81

Respondent believes in Hell. .76

Respondent attends church regularly. .75

Respondent has a great deal of confidence in the country’s churches. .72

Respondent gets comfort and strength from religion. .72

Respondent describes self as “a religious person.” .71

Euthanasia is never justifiable. .66

Work is very important in respondent’s life. .65

There should be stricter limits on selling foreign goods here. .63

Suicide is never justifiable. .61

Parents’ duty is to do their best for their children even at the expense of their own well-being. .60

Respondent seldom or never discusses politics. .57

Respondent places self on right side of a left-right scale. .57

Divorce is never justifiable. .57

There are absolutely clear guidelines about good and evil. .56

Expressing one’s own preferences clearly is more important .56
than understanding others’ preferences.

My country’s environmental problems can be solved without any international agreements .56
to handle them.

If a woman earns more money than her husband, it’s almost certain to cause problems. .53

One must always love and respect one’s parents regardless of their behavior. .49

Family is very important in respondent’s life. .45

Respondent is relatively favorable to having the army rule the country. .43

Respondent favors having a relatively large number of children. .41

(SECULAR-RATIONAL VALUES EMPHASIZE THE OPPOSITE)

Source: Nation-level data from 65 societies surveyed in the 1990-1991 and 1995-1998 World Values
Surveys.

Note: The original polarities vary. The above statements show how each item relates to the traditional/
secular-rational values dimension, as measured by the items described in Table 1.

opposite extreme, people in societies shaped
by insecurity and low levels of well-being,

tend to emphasize economic and physical se-

curity above all other goals, and feel threat-

ened by foreigners, by ethnic diversity and

by cultural change. This leads to an intoler-

ance of gays and other outgroups, an insis-

tence on traditional gender roles, and an au-
thoritarian political outlook.

A central component of this dimension in-
volves the polarization between materialist

and postmaterialist values. Extensive evi-

dence indicates that these values tap an
intergenerational shift from an emphasis on
economic and physical security toward an
increased emphasis on self-expression, sub-

jective well-being, and quality-of-life con-
cerns (Inglehart 1977, 1990, 1997). This
cultural shift is found throughout advanced
industrial society; it emerges among birth
cohorts that have grown up under conditions
in which survival is taken for granted. These

values are linked with a growing emphasis
on environmental protection, the women’s

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 27

Table 3. Correlation of Additional Items with the Survival/Self-Expression Values Dimension

Item Correlation

SURVIVAL VALUES EMPHASIZE THE FOLLOWING:

Men make better political leaders than women. .86

Respondent is dissatisfied with financial situation of his/her household. .83

A woman has to have children in order to be fulfilled. .83

Respondent rejects foreigners, homosexuals, and people with AIDS as neighbors. a .81

Respondent favors more emphasis on the development of technology. .78

Respondent has not recycled things to protect the environment. .76

Respondent has not attended meeting or signed petition to protect the environment. .75

When seeking a job, a good income and safe job are more important than .74

a feeling of accomplishment and working with people you like.b

Respondent is relatively favorable to state ownership of business and industry. .74

A child needs a home with both a father and mother to grow up happily. .73

Respondent does not describe own health as very good. .73

One must always love and respect one’s parents regardless of their behavior. .71

When jobs are scarce, men have more right to a job than women. .69

Prostitution is never justifiable. .69

Government should take more responsibility to ensure that everyone is provided for. .68

Respondent does not have much free choice or control over his/her life. .67

A university education is more important for a boy than for a girl. .67

Respondent does not favor less emphasis on money and material possessions. .66

Respondent rejects people with criminal records as neighbors. .66

Respondent rejects heavy drinkers as neighbors. .64

Hard work is one of the most important things to teach a child. .65

Imagination is not one of the most important things to teach a child. .62

Tolerance and respect for others are not the most important things to teach a child. .62

Scientific discoveries will help, rather than harm, humanity. .60

Leisure is not very important in life. .60

Friends are not very important in life. .56

Having a strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament and elections .58

would be a good form of government.

Respondent has not taken part and would not take part in a boycott. .56

Government ownership of business and industry should be increased. .55

Democracy is not necessarily the best form of government. .45

Respondent opposes sending economic aid to poorer countries. .42

(SELF-EXPRESSION VALUES EMPHASIZE THE OPPOSITE)

Source: Nation-level data from 65 societies surveyed in the 1990-1991 and 1995-1998 World Values
Surveys.

Note: The original polarities vary; the above statements show how each item relates to the survival/self-
expression dimension, as measured by the items described in Table 1.

a Outgroup index.

b Job motivation index.

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28 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

movement, and rising demands for partici-
pation in decision-making in economic and
political life. During the past 25 years, these
values have become increasingly wide-
spread in almost all advanced industrial so-
cieties for which extensive time-series evi-
dence is available.

Table 3 conveys the wide range of values
that are linked with the survival versus self-
expression dimension. Societies that empha-
size survival values show relatively low lev-
els of subjective well-being, report relatively
poor health, are low on interpersonal trust,
relatively intolerant of outgroups, are low on

support for gender equality, emphasize ma-
terialist values, have relatively high levels of
faith in science and technology, are relatively
low on environmental activism, and rela-
tively favorable to authoritarian government.
Societies high on self-expression values tend
to have the opposite preferences on these
topics.

When survival is uncertain, cultural diver-
sity seems threatening. When there isn’t
“enough to go around,” foreigners are seen
as dangerous outsiders who may take away
one’s sustenance. People cling to traditional
gender roles and sexual norms, and empha-
size absolute rules and familiar norms in an
attempt to maximize predictability in an un-
certain world. Conversely, when survival be-
gins to be taken for granted, ethnic and cul-
tural diversity become increasingly accept-
able-indeed, beyond a certain point, diver-
sity is not only tolerated, it may be positively
valued because it is interesting and stimulat-
ing. In advanced industrial societies, people
seek out foreign restaurants to taste new cui-
sine; they pay large sums of money and
travel long distances to experience exotic
cultures. Changing gender roles and sexual
norms no longer seem threatening.

The past few decades have witnessed one

of the most dramatic cultural changes that
has occurred since the dawn of recorded
history-the emergence of new gender roles
enabling women to enter the same occupa-
tions as men. Polarization over new gender
roles is strikingly evident in the survival/
self-expression dimension: One of its high-
est-loading issues involves whether men
make better political leaders than women. In
the world as a whole, a majority still accepts
the idea that men make better political lead-

ers than women, but this view is rejected by

growing majorities in advanced industrial

societies and is overwhelmingly rejected by
the younger generation within these societ-
ies. Equal rights for women, gays and lesbi-

ans, foreigners, and other outgroups tend to
be rejected in societies where survival
seems uncertain and increasingly accepted

in societies that emphasize self-expression

values.

FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

Global Cultural Map, 1995-1998

Figure 1 shows the location of 65 societies
on the two dimensions generated by the na-
tion-level factor analysis in Table 1. The ver-
tical axis on our global cultural map corre-
sponds to the polarization between tradi-
tional authority and secular-rational author-
ity associated with the process of industrial-

ization. The horizontal axis depicts the po-
larization between survival values and self-
expression values related to the rise of
postindustrial society.5 The boundaries
around groups of countries in Figure 1 are
drawn using Huntington’s (1993, 1996) cul-
tural zones as a guide.6

Cross-cultural variation is highly con-
strained. As the traditional/secular-rational
dimension’s loadings indicate (Tables 1 and
2), if the people of a given society place a
strong emphasis on religion, that society’s
relative position on many other variables can

5 This cultural map is consistent with an earlier
one by Inglehart (1997:334-37) based on the
1990-1991 World Values Surveys. Although our
Figure 1 is based on a factor analysis that uses
less than half as many variables as Inglehart used
(1997), and adds 22 societies that were not in-
cluded in the earlier map, the overall pattern is

strikingly similar to the cultural maps in Inglehart
(1997, chaps. 3 and 11). These similarities dem-
onstrate the robustness of the two key dimensions
of cross-cultural variation. The same broad cul-

tural zones appear in essentially the same loca-
tions, even though some zones now contain many
more societies.

6 An alternative strategy would be to use one
of the many available clustering techniques to
identify groups of nations and draw boundaries.
We prefer to use the theoretical classifications
proposed by Huntington and then test for their ex-
planatory power.

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 29

1.8 -m -O
40P I ~~~~~~~~~~East

1.8 l ; / St Germany

-4 Japa Weat Sweden
Germany0

1 /3 Estonia Latvia Denmark0 Norway
0 0 ~~~~~Czech0

– .8 Rusna 0 * Co? ^ Europe
.? ? | * *Ukraine Blai * 1 Switzerland

Yugoslavia Tia

E Belarus Slovakia SloveniaNehrad
. 3 L Armenia i f{Belgiu Nte
o odoaMaedn Catholic BelIum Ieln

L Mo-dova Macedonia Europe France I
.? Southomania I
Olt. New Zealand

-1.2_ ItBangladeshGeoraln B Iritain Canada
2 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~r_ ~~~~~~~~~~~~Australia

Azerbaijan omiica

_01PlGNPiP RepublinEnglish-
speaking

Souh N/Argentina

-2.2 I / A frica Ghile Mexico Ireland U.S.A.
-2.0 -1.50-1.0 -.5 0 . 1

Sur , 110 Bangladesh Latin Ireland

Philippine Republic
Pakistan *Piipn

* South OBrazil America
-1.7 Africa

Colombia

Nigeria 0
0 Vnezuela P~uerto

-2.2 1 1 1 Africa Ghna 0 Ric’o
-2.0 -1.5 – 1.0 -.5 0 .5 1.0 1.5 2.0

Survival/Self-Expression Dimension

Figure 1. Locations of 65 Societies on Two Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Variation: World Values
Surveys, 1990-1991 and 1995-1998

Note: The scales on each axis indicate the country’s factor scores on the given dimension. The positions
of Colombia and Pakistan are estimated from incomplete data.

be predicted-from attitudes toward abor-
tion, level of national pride (highly religious

nations rank high on national pride), the de-

sirability of more respect for authority (reli-

gious nations place much more emphasis on

respect for authority), to attitudes toward

childrearing. The survival/self-expression di-
mension reflects another wide-ranging but

tightly correlated cluster of variables involv-
ing materialist values (such as maintaining

order and fighting inflation) versus post-
materialist values (such as freedom and self-

expression), subjective well-being, interper-

sonal trust, political activism, and tolerance
of outgroups (measured by acceptance or re-
jection of homosexuality, a highly sensitive
indicator of tolerance toward outgroups in

general).

Economic development seems to have a

powerful impact on cultural values: The

value systems of rich countries differ sys-

tematically from those of poor countries.

Figure 1 reflects a gradient from low-income

countries in the lower left quadrant, to rich
societies in the upper right quadrant. Figure

2 redraws Figure 1, showing the economic

zones into which these 65 societies fall. All
19 societies with an annual per capita gross

national product over $15,000 rank relatively
high on both dimensions and fall into a zone

at the upper right-hand corner. This eco-

nomic zone cuts across the boundaries of the

Protestant, ex-Communist, Confucian,

Catholic, and English-speaking cultural
zones. All societies with per capita GNPs be-

low $2,000 fall into a cluster at the lower left

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30 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

1.8

1.3-

.8 – $5,000
0 ~~~~~~~~to

$2,000 $15,000Moeta

E to NP per capita $15,000
a 3- $5,000

GNP per capita G

40 0
-.2

-2.7 – 1. 10 -5 0 . . . .

0 ~ ~ ~ ~~~Sria/efEpeso Dimension

0 ~ ~ ~ $,0

Source: GNP per capitaisbsdothWolBaksPrhsnPoePaiyetmessof19,n

1 -.7 -1.21 GPprcpt

-2.0 -1.5 -1.0 -.5 0 .5 1.0 1.5 2.0

Survival/Self-Expression Dimension

Figure 2. Economic Zones for 65 Societies Superimposed on Two Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Varia-
tion

Note: All but one of the 65 societies shown in Figure 1 fit into the economic zones indicated here; only
the Dominican Republic is mislocated.

Source: GNP per capita is based on the World Bank’s Purchasing Power Parity estimates as of 1995, in
U.S. dollars (World Bank 1997:214-15).

of Figure 2, in an economic zone that cuts
across the African, South Asian, ex-Commu-
nist, and Orthodox cultural zones. The re-

maining societies fall into two intermediate
cultural-economic zones. Economic develop-
ment seems to move societies in a common

direction, regardless of their cultural heri-
tage. Nevertheless, distinctive cultural zones
persist two centuries after the industrial revo-
lution began.

GNP per capita is only one indicator of a

society’s level of economic development. As
Marx argued, the rise of the industrial work-
ing class was a key event in modern history.

Furthermore, the changing nature of the la-
bor force defines three distinct stages of eco-
nomic development: agrarian society, indus-

trial society, and postindustrial society (Bell

1973, 1976). Thus, another set of boundaries

could be superimposed on the societies in

Figure 1: Societies with a high percentage of

the labor force in agriculture would fall near

the bottom of the map, societies with a high

percentage of industrial workers would fall
near the top, and societies with a high per-

centage in the service sector would be lo-

cated near the right-hand side of the map.

The traditional/secular-rational dimension

is associated with the transition from agrar-

ian society to industrial society. Accordingly,

this dimension shows a strong positive cor-
relation with the percentage in the industrial

sector (r = .65) and a negative correlation

with the percentage in the agricultural sector

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 31

(r = -.49) but it is weakly linked with the

percentage in the service sector (r = .18).

Thus, the shift from an agrarian mode of pro-

duction to industrial production seems to
bring with it a shift from traditional values

toward increasing rationalization and secu-
larization. Nevertheless, a society’s cultural

heritage also plays a role. Thus, all four of

the Confucian-influenced societies have rela-
tively secular values, regardless of the pro-
portion of their labor forces in the industrial
sector. The former Communist societies also
rank relatively high on this secularization di-
mension, despite varying degrees of indus-

trialization. Conversely, the historically Ro-
man Catholic societies display relatively tra-

ditional values when compared with Confu-
cian or ex-Communist societies with the
same proportion of industrial workers.

The survival/self-expression dimension is

linked with the rise of a service economy: It
shows a .73 correlation with the relative size
of the service sector, but is unrelated to the
relative size of the industrial sector (r = .03).
While the traditional/secular-rational values

dimension and the survival/self-expression
values dimension reflect industrialization

and the rise of postindustrial society, respec-
tively, this is only part of the story. Virtually
all of the historically Protestant societies
rank higher on the survival/self-expression
dimension than do all of the historically Ro-
man Catholic societies, regardless of the ex-

tent to which their labor forces are engaged
in the service sector. Conversely, virtually all
of the former Communist societies rank low

on the survival/self-expression dimension.
Changes in GNP and occupational structure
have important influences on prevailing
worldviews, but traditional cultural influ-
ences persist.

Religious traditions appear to have had an

enduring impact on the contemporary value
systems of 65 societies, as Weber, Hunting-
ton, and others have argued. But a society’s
culture reflects its entire historical heritage.
A central historical event of the twentieth

century was the rise and fall of a Communist
empire that once ruled one-third of the
world’s population. Communism left a clear
imprint on the value systems of those who

lived under it. East Germany remains cultur-
ally close to West Germany despite four de-
cades of Communist rule, but its value sys-

tem has been drawn toward the Communist

zone. And although China is a member of the

Confucian zone, it also falls within a broad

Communist-influenced zone. Similarly

Azerbaijan, though part of the Islamic clus-

ter, also falls within the Communist super-

zone that dominated it for decades.
The influence of colonial ties is apparent

in the existence of a Latin American cultural

zone. Former colonial ties also help account

for the existence of an English-speaking

zone. All seven of the English-speaking so-

cieties included in this study show relatively

similar cultural characteristics. Geographi-

cally, they are halfway around the world
from each other, but culturally Australia and

New Zealand are next-door neighbors of

Great Britain and Canada. The impact of
colonization seems especially strong when
reinforced by massive immigration from the

colonial society-thus, Spain, Italy, Uru-

guay, and Argentina are all near each other
on the border between Catholic Europe and

Latin America: The populations of Uruguay

and Argentina are largely descended from
immigrants from Spain and Italy. Similarly,
Rice and Feldman (1997) find strong corre-

lations between the civic values of various

ethnic groups in the United States, and the
values prevailing in their countries of ori-

gin-two or three generations after their

families migrated to the United States
Figure 1 indicates that the United States is

not a prototype of cultural modernization
for other societies to follow, as some mod-
ernization writers of the postwar era naively
assumed. In fact, the United States is a devi-
ant case, having a much more traditional
value system than any other advanced in-
dustrial society. On the traditional/secular-
rational dimension, the United States ranks
far below other rich societies, with levels of
religiosity and national pride comparable to
those found in developing societies. The
phenomenon of American exceptionalism
has been discussed by Lipset (1990, 1996),
Baker (1999), and others; our results sup-
port their argument. The United States does
rank among the most advanced societies
along the survival/self-expression dimen-
sion, but even here, it does not lead the
world, as the Swedes and the Dutch seem
closer to the cutting edge of cultural change
than do the Americans.

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32 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

How Real Are the Cultural Zones?

While the placement of each society in Fig-
ure 1 is objective, determined by a factor
analysis of survey data from each country,

the boundaries drawn around these societies
are subjective, using Huntington’s (1993,

1996) division of the world into several cul-

tural zones. How “real” are these zones? The

boundaries could have been drawn in vari-
ous ways because these societies have been
influenced by a variety of factors. Thus,
some of the boundaries overlap others. For
example, the ex-Communist zone overlaps
the Protestant, Catholic, Confucian, Ortho-
dox, and Islamic cultural zones. Similarly,
Britain is located at the intersection of the
English-speaking zone and Protestant Eu-
rope. Empirically, it is close to all five of the
English-speaking societies, and we included

Britain in that zone, but with only slight
modification we could have put it in Protes-

tant Europe, for it is also culturally close to
those societies.

Reality is complex: Britain is both Protes-

tant and English-speaking, and its empirical
position reflects both aspects of reality. Simi-
larly, we have drawn a boundary around the
Latin American societies that Huntington

postulated to be a distinct cultural zone. All
10 of these societies show similar values in

global perspective, but with only minor

changes we could have defined an Hispanic
cultural zone that included Spain and Portu-
gal, which empirically also resemble the
Latin American societies. Or we could have
drawn a boundary that included Latin
America, Catholic Europe, the Philippines,
and Ireland in a broad Roman Catholic cul-
tural zone. All these zones are conceptually
and empirically justifiable.

Figure 1 is based on similarity of basic val-
ues-but the map also reflects the relative
distances between these societies on many
other dimensions, such as religion, colonial
influences, the influence of Communist rule,
social structure, and economic level. The in-
fluence of many different historical factors
can be summed up remarkably well by the
two cultural dimensions on which this map
is based, but because these various factors do
not always coincide neatly, there are some
obvious anomalies. For example, East Ger-
many and Japan fall next to each other: Both

societies are highly secular, relatively
wealthy and have high proportions of indus-

trial workers. But Japan was shaped by a

Confucian heritage while East Germany was

shaped by Protestantism (though interest-

ingly, when the Japanese first drew up a

Western-style constitution, they chose a Ger-

man model). Despite such anomalies, societ-

ies with a common cultural heritage gener-

ally do fall into common clusters. At the

same time, their positions also reflect their

level of economic development, occupa-

tional structure, religion, and other major

historical influences. Thus, their positions in

this two-dimensional space reflect a multidi-
mensional reality-and this remarkable so-

cioeconomic-cultural coherence reflects the
fact that a society’s culture is shaped by its

entire economic and historical heritage.
Modernization theory implies that as soci-

eties develop economically, their cultures

tend to shift in a predictable direction, and
our data fit the implications of this predic-
tion. Economic differences are linked with
large and pervasive cultural differences (see

Figure 2). Nevertheless, we find clear evi-
dence of the influence of long-established
cultural zones. Using data from the latest
available survey for each society, we created
dummy variables to reflect whether a given
society is predominantly English-speaking,
ex-Communist, and so on for each of the
clusters outlined in Figure 1. Empirical
analysis of these variables shows that the
cultural locations of given societies are far
from random (see Table 4). Eight of the nine
zones outlined on Figure 1 show statistically
significant relationships with at least one of
the two major dimensions of cross-cultural
variation (the sole exception is the Catholic
Europe cluster: It is fairly coherent but has a
neutral position on both dimensions). For ex-
ample, the dummy variable for Protestant
Europe shows a .46 correlation with the tra-
ditional/secular-rational dimension and a .41
correlation with the survival/self-expression
dimension (both correlations are significant
at the p < .001 level). Similarly, the ex-Com-
munist dummy variable correlates .43 with
the traditional/secular-rational dimension
and -.74 with the survival/self-expression di-
mension.

Do these cultural clusters simply reflect
economic differences? For example, do the

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 33

Table 4. Standardized Coefficients from the Regression of Traditional/Secular-Rational Values and

Survival/Self-Expression Values on Economic Development and Cultural Heritage Zone

Independent Variable Traditional/Secular-Rational Survival/Self-Expression

Ex-Communist zone (= 1) .424** (3.10) -.393*** (-4.80)

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .496*** (3.57) .575*** (4.13)

Percentage employed in industrial sector, 1980 .216 (1.43)

Percentage employed in service sector, 1980 .098 (.67)

Adjusted R2 .50 .73

Protestant Europe zone (= 1) .370** (3.04) .232* (2.24)

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .025 (.19) .362* (2.12)

Percentage employed in industrial sector, 1980 .553 (4.83)

Percentage employed in service sector, 1980 .331* (2.06)

Adjusted R2 .50 .63

English-speaking zone (= 1) -.300″* (-2.65) .146 (1.48)

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .394** (3.02) 434** (2.56)

Percentage employed in industrial sector, 1980 .468*** (3.98)

Percentage employed in service sector, 1980 .319* (1.93)

Adjusted R2 .47 .61

Latin-American zone (= 1) -.342** (-3.29) .108 (.98)

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .195 (1.72) .602** (2.97)

Percentage employed in industrial sector, 1980 .448*** (3.94)

Percentage employed in service sector, 1980 .224 (1.13)

Adjusted R2 .51 .60

African zone (= 1) -.189 (-1.65) .021 (.22)

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .211 (1.72) .502″* (2.81)

Percentage employed in industrial sector, 1980 .468*** (3.79)

Percentage employed in service sector, 1980 .320 (1.85)

Adjusted R2 .43 .59

South Asian zone (= 1) .070 (.51) .212* (2.08)

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .258* (2.04) .469** (2.90)

Percentage employed in industrial sector, 1980 .542*** (3.87)

Percentage employed in service sector, 1980 .455** (2.63)

Adjusted R2 .40 .62

Orthodox zone (= 1) .152 (1.26) -.457*** (-6.94)

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .304* (2.31) .567*** (4.77)

Percentage employed in industrial sector, 1980 .432*” (3.13)

Percentage employed in service sector, 1980 .154 (1.28)

Adjusted R2 .42 .80

Confucian zone (= 1) .397*** (4.15) -.020 (-.21)

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .304** (2.83) .491** (2.90)

Percentage employed in industrial sector, 1980 .505** (4.76)

Percentage employed in service sector, 1980 .323* (1.95)

Adjusted R2 .56 .59

Number of countries 49 49

Note: Numbers in parentheses are t-values. Reduced Ns reflect missing data on one or more independent
variables.

*p<.05 **p< .01 ***p< .001 (two-tailed tests)

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34 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

societies of Protestant Europe have similar
values simply because they are rich? The an-
swer is no. As Table 4 demonstrates, a
society’s Catholic or Protestant or Confucian
or Communist heritage makes an independent
contribution to its position on the global cul-
tural map. The influence of economic devel-
opment is pervasive. GDP per capita shows a
significant impact in five of the eight mul-
tiple regressions predicting traditional/secu-
lar-rational values, and in all of the regres-
sions predicting survival/self-expression val-
ues. The percentage of the labor force in the
industrial sector seems to influence tradi-
tional/secular-rational values even more con-
sistently than does GDP per capita, showing
a significant impact in seven of the eight re-
gressions. The percentage of the labor force
in the service sector has a significant impact
in six of the eight regressions predicting sur-
vival/self-expression. (Note, the relationship
between these values and the relative size of
the service sector resembles a J-curve, with
the impact of the service sector growing
stronger as its value increases; consequently,
we use the square of the percentage in the
service sector in these regressions.)

The impact of a society’s historical-cul-
tural heritage persists when we control for
GDP per capita and the structure of the la-
bor force. Thus, the ex-Communist dummy
variable shows a strong and statistically sig-
nificant impact on traditional/secular-ratio-
nal values, controlling for economic devel-
opment. The secularizing effect of Commu-
nism is even greater than that of the relative
size of the industrial sector and almost as
great as that for GDP per capita. The ex-
Communist dummy variable also has a
strong significant (p < .001) negative impact
on survival/self-expression values. Simi-
larly, the Protestant Europe dummy variable
has strong and significant impacts on both

of the major cultural dimensions. English-
speaking culture has a strong and significant
impact on the traditional/secular-rational di-
mension: Controlling for level of develop-
ment, it is linked with a relatively tradi-
tional outlook. But although the English-
speaking societies are clustered near the
right-hand pole of the survival/self-expres-
sion dimension, this tendency disappears
when we control for the fact that they are
relatively wealthy and have a high percent-

age of the work force in the service sector.
All but one of the dummy variables for cul-
tural zones in Table 4 show a statistically
significant impact on at least one of the two
dimensions. The sole exception is the Afri-
can group, which forms a tight cluster but
contains only three cases. This generates a
dummy variable for which 62 cases were
coded “0” and only 3 were coded “1.” With
such an extreme skew, this variable is un-
likely to explain much variance.

When we combine the clusters shown in
Figure 1 into broader cultural zones with
large sample sizes, we generate variables
having even greater explanatory power. Fig-
ure 3 indicates that the Catholic societies of
Eastern Europe constitute a distinct sub-
cluster of the Catholic world-midway be-
tween the West European Catholic societies
and the Orthodox societies (Figure 1 merges
these Eastern and Western clusters into one

Catholic Europe zone). The Latin American
cluster is adjacent to the two Catholic
groups, so we can combine all three of these
groups to form a broad Roman Catholic “su-
per-zone.” Two other historically Catholic
societies, the Philippines and Ireland, are
also nearby and thus can be merged into the
Catholic zone. Similarly, Protestant Europe
and most of the English-speaking zone can
be merged into a broad historically Protes-
tant zone. Each of these two new zones cov-
ers a vast geographic, historical, and eco-
nomic range, but each reflects the impact of
a common religious-historical influence,
and each is relatively coherent in global per-
spective.

To illustrate the coherence of these clus-
ters, we examine one of the key variables in
the literature on cross-cultural differences-
interpersonal trust (one component of the
survival/self-expression dimension). Cole-
man (1990), Almond and Verba (1963), Put-
nam (1993), and Fukuyama (1995) argue
that interpersonal trust is essential for build-
ing the social structures on which democ-
racy depends and for creating the complex
social organizations on which large-scale
economic enterprises are based. Figure 4
demonstrates that most historically Protes-
tant societies rank higher on interpersonal
trust than do most historically Catholic soci-
eties. This holds true even after controlling
for levels of economic development: Inter-

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 35

1.8 ~~~~~~~-to -o -m -GM-
1.8 dop- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~East
-0 ricallY emn — Histol nist Japan

mu”i Weat Sweden
1 .8 0 z . 0 5 t o r i c a; sY > Germany 0

1.3 0 Norway u.
1 .3 / Estonia Latvia Denmark, *

0 0 –

O .8 Russia Lithuania < SKoea GOo Russia 0 China’ * 4%
._ | *OUkraine Bugaria Switzerland

Bulgariad 0
Yugoslavi laviwa and *

E) uBlSovaki Slovenia
Benarus 3 Croatia – Netherlands

Armenia HungaryBegu
.3 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~~~~~N Begu 4%

UMoldova Macedoni / Q b Iceland
Romania ,. France Icln

0 Romania 4%~0 0 * 0
I 0 1 ,4~~~~~~~%9 Austria – Bosniae G , * * New Zealand

% -.Georgia Bosni Italy | Britain Canada
-.2 0 Italy ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Australia

3 Azerbaijan Poland I Portugal U
O _ _ Urugua Spain

o I Argentina*
– ~~~~~~~~~~~~~India

-1.2 CSouth while Mexico N. Ireland U
South

1.2 Asia
Bangladesh ur ey o Ireland

Sominican 7
Republic

Pakistan S hilippines
* Suth 0 Brazil

-1.7 Africa 0*Bru
Colombia

Nigeria 0
* Venezuela Puerto A frica Ghan 0 Rc

-2.2 I / I I 1 1
-2.0 -1.5 -1.0 -.5 0 .5 1.0 1.5 2.0

Survival/Self-Expression Dimension

Figure 3. Historically Protestant, Historically Catholic, and Historically Communist Cultural Zones
in Relation to Two Dimensions of Cross-Cultural Variation

personal trust is significantly correlated
with a society’s level of GDP per capita (r =
.60), but even rich Catholic societies rank
lower than equally prosperous historically
Protestant societies. A heritage of Commu-
nist rule also has an impact on interpersonal
trust, with virtually all ex-Communist soci-
eties ranking relatively low (in italic type in
Figure 4); thus, the historically Protestant
societies that had experienced Communist
rule (e.g., East Germany and Latvia) show
relatively low levels of interpersonal trust.
Of the 19 societies in which more than 35
percent of the public believe that most
people can be trusted, 14 are historically
Protestant, three are Confucian-influenced,
one (India) is predominantly Hindu, and
only one (Ireland) is historically Catholic.
Of the 10 societies ranking lowest on trust
in Figure 4, 8 are historically Catholic and
none is historically Protestant.

Within given societies, Catholics rank
about as high on interpersonal trust as do
Protestants. The shared historical experi-
ence of given nations, not individual per-

sonality, is crucial. As Putnam (1993) ar-

gues, horizontal, locally controlled organi-
zations are conducive to interpersonal trust,
whereas rule by large, hierarchical, central-
ized bureaucracies seems to corrode inter-
personal trust. Historically, the Roman

Catholic Church was the prototype of a hier-
archical, centrally controlled institution;
Protestant churches were relatively decen-
tralized and more open to local control. The
contrast between local control and domina-
tion by a remote hierarchy has important
long-term consequences for interpersonal
trust. Clearly, these cross-cultural differ-
ences do not reflect the contemporary influ-
ence of the respective churches. The Catho-
lic church has changed a great deal in recent

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36 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

70

60~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ / itoricall
60 _ /D~~~~~~ ~~~~~enmark

o 50Swde @ I | < NetherlandS~~~~Protestant |
X _ C~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~eheraFilandsfCnd

a)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~aa Confucian reland N.

Ukraine ~ Tiwa

F Taiwan ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Iceland 0 West Switzerland
> 40 _ IndSa BlaiGermany

Belus LaAustralia U.

a) Armeni usao.Rp

Moldoa Georgia * Qatinay Portugal Fac
XB20ngla-~Y * hEnia * /

a) Nigeria /e Sermia AfrcaeArgentina ,
X 0Pakistan 0 Poland * Slovenia Historically At

l samenic Ss Venezuela Catholic
1 0 G aColombia /

Turkey Ex-Communist
PPhilippineseru Puerto societies in italics

anUruguay* Brazil Rlc o

20

0 $5,000 $9,000 $13,000 $17,000 $21,000 $25,000

GNP per Capita

Figure 4. Locations of 65 Societies on Dimensions of Interpersonal Trust and Economic Development,

by Cultural/Religious Tradition

Note: GNP per capita is measured by World Bank purchasing power parity estimates in 1995 U.S. dol-
lars. Trust is correlated with GNP per capita at r = .60 (p < .001).

decades, and in many countries, especially
Protestant ones, church attendance has
dwindled to the point where only a small
minority of the population attends church
regularly. While the majority of individuals

have little or no contact with the church to-

day, the impact of living in a society that
was historically shaped by once-powerful
Catholic or Protestant institutions persists
today, shaping everyone-Protestant,
Catholic, or other-to fit into a given na-
tional culture.

The individual-level data provide addi-
tional insights concerning the transmission
of religious traditions today. There are two
main possibilities: (1) that contemporary re-
ligious institutions instill distinctively Prot-
estant, Catholic, or Islamic values in their re-
spective followers within each society; or (2)
that given religious traditions have histori-

cally shaped the national culture of given so-

cieties, but that today their impact is trans-

mitted mainly through nationwide institu-

tions, to the population of that society as a

whole-even to those who have little or no

contact with religious institutions. As Figure

5 indicates, the empirical evidence clearly

supports the latter interpretation. Although
historically Catholic or Protestant or Islamic

societies show distinctive values, the differ-

ences between Catholics and Protestants or
Muslims within given societies are relatively
small. In Germany, for example, the basic

values of German Catholics resemble those

of German Protestants more than they re-

semble Catholics in other countries. This is
true in the United States, Switzerland, The
Netherlands, and other religiously mixed so-
cieties: Catholics tend to be slightly more
traditional than their Protestant compatriots,

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 37

1.8

Protestant
0

1.3 – West Germany
* Catholic

0 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Protestant o5 .8- Protestant
Switzerland

E ieaNetherlands
E Catholic Catholic

.3-

Historically
-.2 – Protestant

U ~~~~~Historically
_ 0 lHindu’ Catholic

I -1.7 -Christian

Nigeria t/
Muslim I

-2.2
-2.0 -1.5 -1.0 -.5 0 .5 1.0 1.5 2.0

Survival/Self-Expression Dimension

Figure 5. Differences between the Religious Groups within Religiously Mixed Societies on Two Di-
mensions of Cross-Cultural Variation

but they do not fall into the historically
Catholic cultural zone. Rather surprisingly,
this also holds true of the differences be-
tween Hindus and Muslims in India, and be-
tween Christians and Muslims in Nigeria:
The basic values of Nigerian Muslims are
closer to those of their Christian compatriots
than they are to those of Indian Muslims. On
questions that directly evoked Islamic or
Christian identity, this would probably not
hold true; but on these two dimensions of
basic values as measured in the World Val-
ues Surveys, the cross-national differences
dwarf within-nation differences.

Protestant or Catholic societies display
distinctive values today mainly because of
the historical impact their respective
churches had on their societies, rather than
through their contemporary influence. For
this reason, we classify Germany, Switzer-
land, and The Netherlands as historically
Protestant societies-historically, Protestant-

ism shaped them, even though today (as a re-
sult of immigration, relatively low Protestant
birth rates, and higher Protestant rates of
secularization) they may have more practic-
ing Catholics than practicing Protestants.

These findings suggest that, once estab-
lished, the cross-cultural differences linked
with religion have become part of a national
culture that is transmitted by the educational
institutions and mass media of given societ-
ies to the people of that nation. Despite glo-
balization, the nation remains a key unit of
shared experience, and its educational and
cultural institutions shape the values of al-
most everyone in that society.

The persistence of distinctive value sys-
tems suggests that culture is path-dependent.
Protestant religious institutions gave rise to
the Protestant Ethic, relatively high interper-
sonal trust, and a relatively high degree of
social pluralism-all of which may have
contributed to earlier economic development

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38 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

in Protestant countries than in the rest of the
world. Subsequently, the fact that Protestant
societies were (and still are) relatively pros-
perous has probably shaped them in distinc-
tive ways. Although they have experienced
rapid social and cultural change, historically

Protestant and Catholic (and Confucian, Is-
lamic, Orthodox, and other) societies remain
distinct to a remarkable degree. Identifying,
the specific mechanisms through which these
path-dependent developments have occurred

would require detailed historical analyses
that we will not attempt here, but survey evi-
dence from societies around the world sup-
ports this conclusion.

More detailed regression analyses that
control for the structure of the work force
and simultaneously test the impact of vari-
ous cultural zones, provide additional sup-
port for the conclusion that a society’s value
system is systematically influenced by eco-
nomic development-but that a Protestant
or Catholic or Confucian or ex-Communist
heritage also exerts a persistent and perva-
sive influence on contemporary values and
beliefs. Tables 5a and 5b show the results of
OLS regression analyses of cross-national
differences in traditional/secular-rational
values and survival/self-expression values
as measured in 65 societies (using the latest
available survey for each country: The re-
duced N reflects missing data on the inde-
pendent variables). For both dimensions,
real GDP per capita (using data from the
Penn World tables) and the structure of the
work force play major roles. However, the
percentage enrolled in the primary, second-
ary and tertiary educational levels has sur-
prisingly little impact on either dimension.
Some modernization theorists emphasize the
cultural impact of rising educational levels
(Inkeles and Smith 1974; Lerner 1958) but
our results suggest that expansion of the
educational system is not the crucial factor.
The percentage employed in the industrial
sector has a major impact on traditional/
secular-rational values, while the percentage
employed in the service sector has a major
impact on survival/self-expression values.

The people of poor societies and societies
with high percentages working in the agrar-
ian sector tend to hold traditional values,
while the people of richer societies and so-
cieties with a high percentage of the labor

force in the industrial sector tend to hold
secular-rational values. But a given
society’s historical heritage also has an im-
portant influence on the contemporary val-
ues and behavior of its people, even control-
ling for economic level and occupational
structure.7 Tables 5a and 5b indicate that
various other cultural variables also show
significant relationships with traditional/
secular-rational values, but they overlap
with, and tend to be dominated by, the three
cultural indicators included here. For centu-
ries, Confucian societies have been charac-
terized by a relatively secular worldview,
and they remain so today. Communist re-
gimes made major efforts to eradicate tradi-
tional religious values, and they seem to
have had some success. But historically Ro-
man Catholic societies proved relatively re-
sistant to secularization, even after control-
ling for the effects of economic develop-
ment and Communist rule.

Modernization theory holds that the pro-
cess of economic development and the rise
of the industrial sector are conducive to a

secular-rational worldview. As Model 6 in
Table 5a demonstrates, when we control for
a society’s cultural heritage, the impacts of
GDP per capita and industrialization are sig-
nificant. Indeed, Model 6 explains most of
the cross-national variation in traditional/
secular-rational values with just five vari-
ables. Models 3, 4, and 5 demonstrate that
each of the three cultural variables makes a
substantial contribution to the percent of
variance explained, with the Confucian vari-
able making the largest contribution. Includ-
ing all three cultural indicators in the re-
gression increases the percent of variance
explained from 42 percent to 70 percent: A
society’s heritage makes a big difference.

7 By controlling for economic development, we
may be underestimating the impact of a society’s
historical heritage because Protestantism, Confu-
cianism or Communism may have helped shape
the society’s contemporary level of economic de-
velopment. For example, Weber ([1904] 1958) at-
tributes a crucial role to Protestantism in launch-
ing economic growth in Europe, and it is a his-
torical fact that-in its early phase, though clearly
not today-industrialization was overwhelmingly
concentrated in predominantly Protestant societ-
ies and among the Protestant population of mixed
societies.

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 39

Table 5a.Unstandardized Coefficients from the Regression of Traditional/Secular-Rational Values on

Independent Variables Measuring Modernization and Cultural Heritage

Independent Variable Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .066* .086* .131** .042 .080** .122***
(in $1,000s U.S.) (.031) (.043) (.036) (.029) (.027) (.030)

Percentage employed in industrial .052 * .051*** .023 .061*** .052*** .030*
sector, 1980 (.012) (.014) (.015) (.011) (.011) (.012)

Percentage enrolled in -.01

education (.01)

Ex-Communist (= 1) 1.05** .952***
(.351) (.282)

Historically Catholic (= 1) -.767** -.409*
(.216) (.188)

Historically Confucian (= 1) 1.57*** 1.39***

(.370) (.329)

Adjusted R2 .42 .37 .50 .53 .57 .70

Number of countries 49 46 49 49 49 49

Table 5b.Unstandardized Coefficients from the Regression of Survival/Self-Expression Values on In-

dependent Variables Measuring Modernization and Cultural Heritage

Independent Variable Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6

Real GDP per capita, 1980 .090* .095* .056 .120* .098*” .144*4*
(in $1,000s U.S.) (.043) (.046) (.043) (.037) (.037) (.017)

(Percentage employed in service .042″8 .011o .035 .019 .018
sector, 1980)2 (.015) (.000) (.015) (.014) (.013)

Percentage employed in service -.054

sector, 1980 (.039)

Percentage enrolled in -.005
education (.012)

Ex-Communist (= 1) -.920*** -.883 ?** -.411*
(.204) (.197) (.188)

Historically Protestant (= 1) .672* .509* .415**

(.279) (.237) (.175)

Historically Orthodox (= 1) -1.182***
(.240)

Adjusted R2 .63 .63 .66 .74 .76 .84

Number of countries 49 46 49 49 49 49

Source: Latest available survey from 1990-1991 or 1995-1998 World Values Surveys.

Note: Numbers in parentheses are standard errors.

*p <.05 ** < .01 *** < .001 (two-tailed tests)

The economic modernization indicators

(GDP per capita and the relative size of the

service sector) in Model 1 explain 63 percent
of the cross-national variation in survival/
self-expression values (Table 5b). The per-
centage of the population enrolled in primary,
secondary, and tertiary education and the

untransformed percentage employed in the

service sector do not have significant ex-

planatory power. Nevertheless, three cultural

variables do show significant effects: A Prot-

estant cultural heritage is associated with the

syndrome of high levels of trust, tolerance,

well-being, and postmaterialism that consti-

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40 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

_. China 90 1 .8 China90 East Germany 97

Japan 95 West
Germany 97 Sweden 96

1 .3 Estonia Estonia 90 Norway 96
Bulgaria 90 96 S. Korea 96 9 90 81

JapanSwdn8
Russia 90 ~~~~~~~~81

9 Blrs9 Latvenia 90 S. Korea 81

o .8 el arus 90 *Bulg. 90 a
.2? . 97 S. Korea 96 Norway 81 Switzerland 96

Lithuania F arn 81 Net ands 81 Ne lands 90
Russia 96 ChIna 95in tan81

{e 96 .Ja966 West Germany 81 DAti

EK5 -.7 Xndia 9Belarus 96 Slovenia 90 oand 96

.3 Hungary 909 u 90
Franc rn 90 Iceland 90

Polaungaryn81 Switzerland 90
Hungary ria Arge Britain 98 *Canada 90

81 ~~~~tly 90 Iceland 81
-.2 Poland AustraliaN95

Spain 81~ ~ ~~~~Bitin8
-2.0 -1 ss -1.0 -. 0 .In5 Britain2.

Survival/Seln Aimension ustralia 81

-.7 1~~~~~~~Ini 96 Aotric Argentina 95 Canada 81
o Indiao – * 81

Bai90Mxico 96 si U.S.A 81

Trkey 9 Chile
96 NIrln90 U.S.A 95

-1.2 Sot~ Turkey Ireland8
Africa 96 Ireland 90

eties~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Poland 90

– .7 Brazil 97 Initial survey

Nigeria time points in theWorld Last survey
Nigeria 95

-2.2 I

-2.0 -1.5 -1.0 -.5 0 .5 1.0 1.5 2.0

Survival/Self-Expression Dimension

Figure 6. Change Over Time in Location on Two Dimensions of Cross Cultural Variation for 38 Soci-
eties

Note: The 38 countries included are those for which time-series data are available from the earliest to the

latest time points in the World Values Surveys.

tutes self-expression values; an Orthodox re-
ligious heritage and a Communist historical

heritage both show a negative impact on these

values, even after controlling for differences
in economic level and social structure. Each

cultural factor adds to the percentage of vari-
ance explained (Models 3, 4, and 5 in Table
5b), with the ex-Communist variable making
the greatest contribution by itself, but with
the Orthodox variable making a substantial
supplementary contribution. Including all
three cultural indicators in the regression
equation increases the percentage of variance
explained in survival/self-expression values
from 63 percent to 84 percent (Model 6).
Thus, a combination of economic and cultural
indicators explains considerably more vari-
ance than do the economic indicators alone.

CHANGES IN VALUES OVER TIME

We have shown that cross-national cultural
variation is closely associated with a
society’s level of economic development and
its cultural heritage. Are these merely cross-
sectional patterns? Only time-series data can
answer this question conclusively. The World
Values Surveys provide time-series data cov-
ering the relatively brief span from 1981 to
1998.

Figure 6 shows, for each of the 38 societ-
ies for which we have data from at least two
time points, how values have changed dur-
ing the years covered by our surveys. For ex-
ample, the arrow for West Germany, near the
upper right-hand corner of Figure 6, shows
the changes in values among the West Ger-

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 41

man public from 1981 to 1997. Data from

East Germany are available only from the

1990 and 1997 surveys, and a somewhat

shorter arrow shows the trajectory of change

in values for what was once East Germany
and is now part of the Federal Republic of
Germany. Both regions of Germany experi-
enced substantial changes in values and both
moved upward and to the right, toward in-
creasingly secular-rational values and an in-
creasing emphasis on self-expression values.
Many countries in Figure 6 show similar
shifts in values from 1981 to 1997.

Some societies (e.g., Russia and Belarus)
show retrograde movements, moving down-
ward and to the left. With the collapse of the
economic, social, and political systems of the
Soviet Union in 1990-1991, the peoples of
all the Soviet successor states placed increas-
ing emphasis on survival values, and some
placed increasing emphasis on traditional
values as well.

The pattern underlying these shifts was not
random. Our thesis holds that economic de-
velopment promotes secular and self-expres-
sion values, while economic collapse will
push in the opposite direction. Thus, most of
the societies that show a retrograde move-
ment are ex-Communist societies, reacting to
the collapse of their economic, social, and
political systems. During the time period for
which we have data, the publics of all 20 ad-
vanced industrial societies (Australia, Bel-
gium, Canada, Finland, France, East Ger-
many, West Germany, Great Britain, Iceland,
Ireland, Northern Ireland, South Korea, Italy,

Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden,
Switzerland, and the United States) increas-
ingly emphasized self-expression values.

Most of these societies (60 percent of them)
also moved toward secular/rational values,
but the pattern was mixed. Two contrasting
trends are found in advanced industrial soci-

eties: Established religious institutions are
losing the allegiance of their followers, but
there is a growing interest in spiritual con-
cerns at the individual level.

The ex-Communist societies fall into two
groups: those that experienced economic and
social collapse, and those that made a suc-
cessful transition to market economies. All of
the Soviet successor states fall into the
former group. Among the societies for which
we have time-series data, Russia, Belarus,

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania all experi-

enced economic decline during the 1990s,

showing an average negative growth rate of
5.8 percent from 1990 to 1997. Another

group of ex-Communist countries-China,

Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia-showed

positive growth rates, averaging 4.0 percent

during this period. All five societies that ex-
perienced economic collapse shifted toward
an increasing emphasis on survival values,

while three of the four publics that experi-

enced economic growth shifted in the oppo-

site direction. Similarly, among the former

group, only two shifted toward increasingly

secular-rational values, while among the lat-

ter group, three out of four did so.

The trend toward modern values is not ir-

reversible. While this seems to be the pre-

vailing trend among industrialized societies,

the combination of economic, political, and

social collapse that afflicted the former So-
viet Union during the 1980s and 1990s

clearly reversed this trend, bringing growing
misery, distrust, rejection of outgroups, xe-
nophobia, and authoritarian nationalism.8

The eight developing and low-income so-
cieties for which we have time-series data
show two contrasting patterns: There is little
evidence of secularization-only two of the
eight societies shifted toward the secular-ra-
tional pole (Chile and Mexico); Argentina,
Brazil, India, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tur-
key do not shift. Yet most of these societies
do show some movement from survival val-
ues toward self-expression values-only Ni-
geria and South Africa do not.

Secular-rational values became more wide-
spread in most advanced industrial societies

8 The contrasting paths that different types of
societies have taken in recent years indicates that
these cultural changes do not result primarily
from the emergence of a global communications

network. Most ex-Communist societies have been
exposed to Western motion pictures, television,
the Internet, and a global pop culture of jeans,
Coca-Cola, and rock music. Nevertheless, their
underlying basic values have been shifting in the
opposite direction from other industrial societies.
While the rise of a global communications net-
work is important, an even more crucial influence
on cultural change is whether people experience
secure socioeconomic environments in their daily
lives. Security has been notably absent from the
former U.S.S.R. during the last decade.

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42 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

and most ex-Communist societies-except

the Soviet successor states-but in only two

of the developing and low income societies.
Self-expression values became more wide-

spread in all advanced industrial societies

and in most other societies, but in none of

the Soviet successor states. These findings

suggest that rising security tends to produce

a shift toward secular values and tolerance,,

trust, subjective well-being, and a post-
materialist outlook, while social and eco-

nomic collapse propel a society in the oppo-

site direction. Most societies have experi-
enced economic growth during the last two
centuries, but since about 1980 the Soviet

successor states have not. However, the col-
lapse of Communism was a onetime histori-

cal event and in the long run these societies
will probably reestablish economic growth,
as several ex-Communist countries already
have done. If they do, we predict that they
will move toward modern and postindustrial

values in the new millennium.

VALUE DIFFERENCES ACROSS
BIRTH COHORTS

The basic values of these publics showed
complex but systematic shifts during the
years from 1981-1982 to 1995-1998. How-
ever, from the perspective of modernization,
this 17-year span is all too brief. An analysis
of the value differences between generations
may provide insight into value changes over
a much longer period.

A large body of evidence indicates that the
basic values of individuals are largely fixed
by the time they reach adulthood (Baker,
Dalton, and Hildebrandt 1981; Inglehart
1977, 1997; Rokeach 1968, 1973). As
Schuman and Scott (1989) argue, generations
have “collective memories,” imprinted in
adolescence and early adulthood, that persist
throughout the life cycle. Thus, we expect to
find substantial differences between the val-
ues of the young and the old in societies that
have experienced a rising sense of security
(Inglehart 1997:45-47). Theoretically, rising
levels of existential security are the key fac-
tor underlying intergenerational value
change. During the twentieth century, the
formative experiences of the younger genera-
tions in industrial societies have differed
from those of older ones-survival has be-

come increasingly secure and a growing seg-
ment of the younger generation has come to
take survival for granted. A country’s GDP
per capita provides a rough indicator of the
degree to which survival is secure, but war,
disease, crime, and other factors also are sig-

nificant. The best indicator of existential se-
curity during one’s formative years, is the

country’s life expectancy from 1900-1910

(during the childhood of our oldest respon-
dents) to the present. Although we do not
have such time-series data for most of these

countries, we do know that life expectancies
were relatively low at the start of this cen-
tury and have risen dramatically in all soci-
eties that have experienced economic
growth, improved diet and improved medi-
cal care, and related factors. Even in the
United States (already the richest society on
Earth), life expectancy in 1900 was only 48

years, and today it is 76 years. Societies with
high life expectancies today tend to be soci-
eties that have experienced relatively large
increases in existential security since 1900.

Thus, we would expect to find strong cor-
relations between a given society’s life ex-
pectancy and the size of the intergenerational
value differences in that society, and we do.
Intergenerational value differences are great-
est in the societies with the highest life ex-
pectancies. Across 61 societies, the correla-
tion between 1995 life expectancy and the
size of the intergenerational difference in tra-
ditional/secular-rational values is .56, sig-
nificant at the p < .001 level; and the corre-
lation between life expectancy and the size

of the intergenerational difference in sur-
vival/self-expression values is .41, also sig-
nificant at the p < .001 level.

Figure 7 shows the level of traditional/
secular-rational values for seven birth co-
horts born during the 70-year span from
1907 to 1976. A graph attempting to depict
the age differences among 60-some societies
would be unreadable. Thus, to convey the
overall pattern in parsimonious fashion, we
grouped societies into four categories based
on their economic histories during the twen-
tieth century: (1) The “advanced industrial
democracies” have 1995 per capita GNPs
over $10,000 (based on World Bank purchas-
ing power parity estimates) and have experi-
enced substantial economic growth during
the twentieth century (which is the main rea-

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 43

.60

.40 –

0

.20

7z) NV.

5o -.60 DvlIng I 111I

-.80 .111 Low-inco me SOc e

0 –

-1.0 – l l l l
1907-1916 1917-1926 1927-1936 1937-1946 1947-1956 1957-1966 1967-1976

Birth Year

Figure 7. Traditional/Secular-Rational Values by Year of Birth for Four Types of Societies

Source: Data come from the most recent survey for each country in the World Values Surveys.

Note: High values on the traditional/secular-rational dimension indicate secularism. Data are weighted to
give each society equal weight.

a Ex-Communist societies include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Rep.,

Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia,
Slovenia, Ukraine, Yugoslavia (N = 15,804).

b Advanced industrial democracies include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland,
France, East Germany, West Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Italy, Japan, South

Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States
(N = 21,947).

c Developing societies include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Uru-

guay, Venezuela (N = 8,024).

dLowincome societies include Dominican Republic, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines (N = 5,280).

son why they are rich)-according to data
from the Penn World tables (Heston and
Summers 1991), their real mean per capita
GNP in 1992 was 7.0 times higher than it

was in 1950; (2) the “ex-Communist societ-
ies” experienced even faster economic
growth since 1950-their mean real per
capita GNP in 1992 was 13.1 times higher
than in 1950, but they have experienced ma-
jor economic reversals in recent years; (3)
the “developing societies” include all non-

Communist countries with real per capita
GNPs from $5,000 to $10,000 per year-
their mean per capita GNP in 1992 was 4.7

times higher than in 1950; and (4) the “low-

income societies” include all countries with

real per capita GNP below $5,000-a group
that experienced the least long-term growth,

with real per capita GNP in 1992 being only
2.0 times higher than it was in 1950.9

As Figure 7 indicates, the young are mark-
edly less traditional than the old in the ad-

9 Ideally, we want to have economic data since
the first decade of the twentieth century to coin-
cide with the birth years of our oldest cohort. For

technical reasons, comparable data from before
1950 are not available.

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44 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

1.0

t To ~- – –
0

ar4001 L1owugnc societies -.5 __
-) .0 2 107-1916 119 11 19 11 9

C,)

X~ ~ ~~~~~

Birth Year

Figure 8. Survival/Self-Expression Values by Year of Birth for Four Types of Societies

Source: Data come from the most recent survey for each country in the World Values Surveys.

Note. High values on the survival/self-expression dimension indicate high self-expression. Data are
weighted to give each society equal weight. See the note to Figure 7 for groupings of societies.

vanced industrial democracies and in the ex-

Communist societies. But this holds true
only in societies that have experienced sub-

stantial economic growth since 1950. The
steep slope indicates that younger groups
have much more secular-rational worldviews

than do older groups in both capitalist and
ex-Communist industrial societies. The slope

is less steep in developing societies, and in

low-income societies the young and the old

are about equally likely to hold traditional
values.

While change in economic conditions
seems to play a significant role in differences
across birth cohorts, that is only part of the
story. Thus, the older groups that were
brought up in ex-Communist societies exhibit
stronger secular-rational values than do those
of comparable age in any other type of soci-
ety. Their formative years were characterized
by rapid economic growth during an era when
Communism seemed to be surpassing capi-

talism. Moreover, they were subjected to
powerful campaigns to eradicate religion and

traditional values, which probably had some
impact. Accordingly, we find steep value dif-

ferences between the older and younger co-
horts in ex-Communist societies. During the
last two decades, however, these societies ex-

perienced economic stagnation and declining
ideological fervor, and the intergenerational
differences flatten out-virtually disappear-
ing among the young. Conversely, the oldest
cohorts in advanced industrial societies show

much more traditional values than do their
peers in ex-Communist societies; but ad-
vanced industrial societies show a steeper
slope that continues longer, so that their
youngest cohorts are even less traditional
than are their peers in the ex-Communist so-
cieties. The pattern in Figure 7 is consistent
with the expectation of large intergener-
ational value differences in societies that
have experienced rising life expectancies and
long-term economic growth, but not in soci-
eties that are only beginning to do so.

Figure 8 shows the levels of survival/self-
expression values among seven birth cohorts

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 45

in the four types of societies. Again, the

steepest intergenerational differences occur
in advanced industrial societies and in ex-

Communist societies, relatively small
intergenerational differences occur in devel-

oping societies, and little difference is found
between the values of older and younger co-
horts in the low-income societies. In contrast

with Figure 7, Figure 8 shows that ex-Com-
munist societies rank much lower than other
societies on the “syndrome” of trust, toler-
ance, subjective well-being, political activ-
ism, and self-expression that constitutes this

major dimension of cross-cultural variation.

In part, this may reflect the impact of current
circumstances: During the last decade most

ex-Communist societies have been in tur-
moil, with the peoples of the Soviet succes-

sor states experiencing the collapse of their
economic, political, and social systems. Life
has been insecure and unpredictable, and life
expectancy has actually fallen. This results
in a complex pattern: Although we find a

relatively steep intergenerational slope, sug-
gesting a long-term trend during the last 60
years in which peoples’ lives became in-
creasingly secure, the immediate reality is
that the peoples of the former Communist
societies now emphasize survival values
even more strongly than do the peoples of
low-income societies. In other words, we
find both cohort and period effects.

Because we have data only from the 1990
and 1995 surveys for over half of these soci-
eties, we cannot perform the type of cohort
analysis that might enable us to separate
these long-term and short-term changes. The
fact that the ex-Communist societies cur-
rently rank so low suggests that economic
and political collapse has had a substantial
impact. Evidence from the 1981 World Val-

ues Survey (in which Hungary and Tambov
oblast, a representative region of Russia,
were the only Communist societies included)
indicates that these societies had signifi-
cantly higher levels of subjective well-being
in 1981 than they do now. But even then,
their levels were considerably lower than
those in advanced industrial societies. Over-
all levels of well-being eroded sharply with
the collapse of Communist systems, most of
which now show levels of subjective well-
being far below those of the low-income
countries. Because subjective well-being is a

core component of this values dimension, we
suspect that the strong emphasis on survival

values shown by ex-Communist societies in
Figure 7 is partly due to the collapse of Com-

munism in 1989-1991.

The absence of intergenerational change in
low-income societies suggests a continuing

emphasis on survival values by the over-
whelming majority of their people through-
out the past several decades. 10 In the ex-Com-
munist societies, by contrast, successive birth
cohorts experienced rising levels of economic
security until the collapse of Communism
propelled them downward. The low levels of
self-expression values found in ex-Commu-
nist societies are not solely the result of cur-
rent economic factors, however. Even in
1981, a decade before the collapse of the So-
viet Union, these societies showed lower lev-

10 Societies with traditional values also have
much higher fertility rates than those with secu-
lar-rational values, which enables traditional val-
ues to remain widespread despite the forces of
modernization. Our traditional/secular-rational
values index shows a strong negative correlation
with the 1995 fertility rates of these societies (r =
-.75), after controlling for economic develop-
ment, education, and social structural variables.
Today, most industrial societies have fertility
rates below the replacement level. In Germany,

Russia, Japan, Spain, and Italy, the average
woman of child-bearing age now produces from
1.2 to 1.6 children (2.1 is the replacement rate).
In contrast, low-income societies continue to
have much higher fertility rates (due, in part, to
the high rates of reproduction encouraged by tra-
ditional values). In Nigeria, for example, the av-
erage woman currently produces 5.5 children, and
she has them earlier in life, shortening the span
between generations. The fertility differences be-
tween industrial and developing societies are so
large that we observe two seemingly incompat-
ible trends: (1) Most societies are industrializing,
and industrialization tends to bring increasingly
secular worldviews; but (2) today, larger numbers
of people than ever before hold traditional val-
ues. In 1970, 73 percent of the world’s popula-
tion lived in developing countries and 27 percent
lived in developed countries. By 1996, the devel-
oped countries contained only 20 percent of the
world’s population; by 2020, they will contain an
estimated 16 percent of the world’s population
(U.S. Census Bureau 1996). The peoples of most
developed countries have shifted toward modern
values, but their societies contain a diminishing
share of the world’s population.

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46 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

els of subjective well-being than societies

that had a fraction of their per capita GNP. As

our multiple regression analysis indicates, the
low levels of self-expression values found in

ex-Communist societies persist, even after

controlling for economic variables. In part,
they may reflect the consequences of living
under repressive authoritarian regimes.

THE PERSISTENCE OF RELIGIOUS

AND SPIRITUAL BELIEFS

As a society shifts from an agrarian to an in-

dustrial economy and survival comes to be
taken for granted, traditional religious beliefs
tend to decline. Nevertheless, as the twenty-
first century opens, cleavages along religious

lines remain strong. Why has religion been

so slow to disappear?
There are several reasons. For example, al-

though rising existential security does seem
to make religious faith less central, the con-
verse is also true, and history has taken an
ironic turn. Communist-style industrializa-

tion was especially favorable to seculariza-
tion, but the collapse of Communism has
given rise to pervasive insecurity and a re-

turn to religious beliefs. In 1990, when a tot-
tering but still dominant Communist party
ruled Russia, 56 percent of Russians de-
scribed themselves as religious. By 1995,

when the Soviet political, economic, and so-
cial systems had collapsed, 64 percent of
Russians described themselves as religious-

a figure that is not only well above the previ-
ous level for Russia, but above the average
level for advanced industrial societies.
Belarus and the three Baltic republics all
have shown a similar religious revival. Sev-
enty years of Communist rule did not eradi-
cate religion in the U.S.S.R., and the collapse
of Communism brought a resurgence of reli-
gious orientations.

The data reveal two contrasting trends: the
decline of attendance at religious services
throughout advanced industrial society, on
one hand, and on the other, the persistence
of religious beliefs and the rise of spiritual-
ity. Among the 20 advanced industrial soci-
eties for which we have time-series data, 16
show declining rates of church attendance
and only 2 show increases (Table 6). Al-
though the United States has been exception-
ally resistant to secularization (Hout and

Table 6. Percentage Attending Religious Ser-

vices at Least Once a Month, by Coun-

try and Year

1990- 1995- Net

Country 1981 1991 1998 Change

Advanced Industrial Democracies a

Australia 40 25 -15

Belgium 38 35 – 3

Canada 45 40 – 5

Finland 13 13 11 – 2

France 17 17 0

East Germany – 20 9 -11

West Germany 35 33 25 -10

Great Britain 23 25 + 2

Iceland 10 9 – 1

Ireland 88 88 0

Northern Ireland 67 69 + 2

South Korea 29 60 27 – 2

Italy 48 47 – 1

Japan 12 14 11 – 1

Netherlands 40 31 – 9

Norway 14 13 13 – 1

Spain 53 40 38 -15

Sweden 14 10 11 – 3

Switzerland 43 25 -18

United States 60 59 55 – 5

Ex-Communist Societies b

Belarus 6 14 + 8

Bulgaria 9 15 + 6

Hungary 16 34 +18

Latvia 9 16 + 7

Poland 85 74 – 11

Russia 6 8 + 2

Slovenia 35 33 – 2

Developing and Low-Income Societies c

Argentina 56 55 41 -15

Brazil 50 54 + 4

Chile 47 44 – 3

India 71 54 -17

Mexico 74 63 65 – 9

Nigeria 88 87 – 1

South Africa 61 70 + 9

Turkey 38 44 + 6

a Sixteen of 20 advanced industrial democracies

declined; mean change = -5.

b Of ex-Communist societies, 5 of 7 increased;
mean change = + 4.

c Of developing and low-income societies, 5 of 8
declined; mean change = – 4.

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 47

Greeley 1998), our data show modestly de-

clining church attendance even in this coun-

try-a trend also found in the General Social

Surveys from 1989 to 1998 (Smith 1999).

Among the ex-Communist societies, how-
ever, the pattern is quite different: Five of the
seven societies for which we have time-se-

ries data show rising church attendance.

Among developing societies we find a mixed

pattern, with roughly equal numbers of coun-

tries showing rising and declining rates of

attendance. I I
A decline in the prevalence of traditional

religious values characterizes industrializa-

tion, but not necessarily the postindustrial

phase. The need for security is not the only
attraction of religion. People have always
sought answers to such questions as: Where
do we come from? Where are we going?
Why are we here? The need for answers may
be especially acute in the face of disaster, but
it does not die out in postindustrial society.
Spiritual concerns will probably always be

part of the human outlook. The established
churches today may be on the wrong wave-
length for most people in postindustrial soci-
eties, but new theologies, such as the “theol-
ogy” of environmentalism, or New Age be-
liefs, are emerging to fill an expanding niche

(Baker 1999). With the rise of postindustrial

society, allegiance to the established reli-
gious institutions continues to decline, but
spiritual concerns do not. Wuthnow (1998)
argues, for example, that the decline of orga-
nized religion in America is accompanied by
the rise of spiritual concerns, a shift from
what he calls a “spirituality of dwelling”
(emphasizing sacred places) to a “spiritual-
ity of seeking” (emphasizing a personal
quest for new spiritual avenues). Wuthnow’s
thesis seems relevant beyond the American
context. Postmaterialists are less attached to

traditional forms of religion than are materi-
alists, but they are more likely to spend time
thinking about the meaning and purpose of
life. And in the three successive waves of the
World Values Surveys, concern for the mean-

‘1 The illiterate (and most traditional) segment
of the population in developing societies tends to
be underrepresented in these surveys. Because
this segment of the population is a major part of

the public in low-income societies, we suspect
that these data overstate the decline of religious
participation in these societies.

Table 7. Percentage Rating the “Importance of

God in Their Lives” as “10” on a 10-

Point Scale, by Country and Year

1990- 1995- Net
Country 1981 1991 1998 Change

Advanced Industrial Democracies a

Australia 25 21 -4

Belgium 9 13 +4

Canada 36 28 -8

Finland 14 12 -2

France 10 10 0

East Germany – 13 6 -7

West Germany 16 14 16 0

Great Britain 20 16 -4

Iceland 22 17 -5

Ireland 29 40 – +11

Northern Ireland 38 41 +3

Italy 31 29 -2

Japan 6 6 5 -1

Netherlands 11 11 – 0

Norway 19 15 12 -7

Spain 18 18 26 +8

Sweden 9 8 8 -1

Switzerland 26 17 -9

United States 50 48 50 0

Ex-Communist Societies b

Belarus 8 20 +12

Bulgaria 7 10 +3

Hungary 21 22 – +1

Latvia 9 17 +8

Russia 10 19 +9

Slovenia 14 15 +1

Developing and Low-Income Societies c

Argentina 32 49 57 +25

Brazil 83 87 +4

Chile 61 58 -3

India 44 56 +12

Mexico 60 44 50 -10

Nigeria 87 87 0

South Africa 50 74 71 +21

Turkey 71 81 +10

a Eleven of 19 advanced industrial democracies
declined; mean change = -1.

b Of ex-Communist societies, 6 of 6 increased;
mean change = +6.

c Of developing and low-income societies, 5 of 8
increased; mean change = +6.

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48 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

ing and purpose of life became stronger in

most advanced industrial societies.

The subjective importance of religious be-

liefs has changed little in most advanced in-

dustrial democracies. For example, the
World Values Surveys asked, “How impor-
tant is God in your life?” (This variable is a
particularly effective indicator of overall re-

ligiosity and was a component of the tradi-
tional/secular-rational values dimension).
The percentage choosing “10,” the highest
score on the question’s 10-point scale, de-
clined only slightly in advanced industrial
democracies (see Table 7). Although the pub-
lics in the overwhelming majority of these

societies reported lower rates of church at-

tendance, only about half of these societies
show declining emphasis on the importance
of God, and the mean change is a decline of
only 1 percentage point. Religious feeling
holds up even more strongly in the rest of the
world. In all six of the ex-Communist societ-
ies for which we have time-series data, the
importance attached to God increased. A
similar pattern held in most of the develop-
ing and low-income societies: The impor-

tance of God in one’s life increased in five
of the eight societies, and in one of the soci-
eties in which it did not increase (Nigeria), it
remained at an extremely high level.

The subjective importance of God declined

slightly in advanced industrial democracies,
but increased in the world as a whole. But

even in advanced industrial societies,
broader spiritual concerns have become more
widespread. The World Values Surveys’ re-
spondents were asked, “How often, if at all,
do you think about the meaning and purpose
of life?” Four alternatives were offered: “of-

ten,” “sometimes,” “rarely,” and “never.”
The percentage saying that they “often”
think about the meaning and purpose of life
increased in 26 of the 37 societies for which

we have time-series data, and the increase
was most pronounced in the advanced indus-
trial democracies, where 16 of our 20 societ-
ies show increased interest in spiritual con-
cerns (Table 8). The power of the established
hierarchical churches may be declining, but
the rise of postindustrial society does not
necessarily diminish interest in religion. In-
deed, the evidence suggests that it leads to
growing interest in spiritual concerns,
broadly defined.

Table 8. Percentage Saying They “Often” Think

About the Meaning and Purpose of

Life, by Country and Year

1990- 1995- Net

Country 1981 1991 1998 Change

Advanced Industrial Democracies a

Australia 34 44 +10

Belgium 22 29 +7

Canada 38 43 +5

Finland 32 38 40 +8

France 36 39 +3

East Germany – 40 47 +7

West Germany 29 30 41 +12

Great Britain 34 36 +2

Iceland 39 36 -3

Ireland 25 34 +9

Northern Ireland 29 33 +4

South Korea 29 39 +10

Italy 36 48 +12

Japan 21 21 26 +5

Netherlands 21 31 +10

Norway 26 31 32 +6

Spain 24 27 24 0

Sweden 20 24 28 +8

Switzerland 44 43 -1

United States 48 48 46 -2

Ex-Communist Societies b

Belarus 35 47 +12

Bulgaria 44 33 -11

China 30 26 -4

Estonia 35 39 +4

Hungary 44 45 +1

Latvia 36 43 +7

Lithuania 41 42 +1

Russia 41 45 +4

Slovenia 37 33 -4

Developing and Low-Income Societies C

Argentina 30 57 51 +21

Brazil 44 37 -7

Chile 54 50 -4

India 28 23 -5

Mexico 32 40 39 +7

Nigeria 60 50 -10

South Africa 38 57 46 +8

Turkey 38 50 +12

a Sixteen of 20 advanced industrial democracies
increased; mean change = +6.

b Of ex-Communist societies, 6 of 9 increased;
mean change: +1.

c Of developing and low-income societies, 4 of 8
increased; mean change = +3.

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THE PERSISTENCE OF TRADITIONAL VALUES 49

CONCLUSION

Evidence from the World Values Surveys

demonstrates both massive cultural change
and the persistence of distinctive traditional
values. Economic development is associated
with pervasive, and to some extent predict-
able, cultural changes. Industrialization pro-
motes a shift from traditional to secular-ra-

tional values, while the rise of postindustrial
society brings a shift toward more trust, tol-
erance, well-being, and postmaterialist val-
ues. Economic collapse tends to propel soci-
eties in the opposite direction. If economic
development continues, we expect a contin-
ued decline of institutionalized religion. The
influence of traditional value systems is un-

likely to disappear, however, as belief sys-
tems exhibit remarkable durability and resil-
ience. Empirical evidence from 65 societies
indicates that values can and do change, but

also that they continue to reflect a society’s
cultural heritage.

Modernization theorists are partly right.
The rise of industrial society is linked with

coherent cultural shifts away from traditional
value systems, and the rise of postindustrial
society is linked with a shift away from ab-
solute norms and values toward a syndrome
of increasingly rational, tolerant, trusting,
postindustrial values. But values seem to be
path dependent: A history of Protestant or
Orthodox or Islamic or Confucian traditions
gives rise to cultural zones with distinctive
value systems that persist after controlling
for the effects of economic development.
Economic development tends to push societ-
ies in a common direction, but rather than

converging, they seem to move on parallel
trajectories shaped by their cultural heri-
tages. We doubt that the forces of modern-
ization will produce a homogenized world
culture in the foreseeable future.

We propose several modifications of mod-
ernization theory. First, modernization does
not follow a linear path. The rise of the ser-
vice sector and the transition to a knowledge
society are linked with a different set of cul-
tural changes from those that characterized
industrialization. Moreover, protracted eco-
nomic collapse can reverse the effects of
modernization, resulting in a return to tradi-
tional values, as seems to be happening in
the former Soviet Union.

Second, the secularization thesis is over-
simplified. Our evidence suggests that it ap-
plies mainly to the industrialization phase-

the shift from agrarian society to industrial
society that was completed some time ago in
most advanced industrial societies. This shift
was linked with major declines in the role of
the church, which led Marx and others to as-
sume that, in the long run, religious beliefs
would die out. The shift from agrarian to ur-
ban industrial society reduces the importance
of organized religion, but this is counterbal-
anced by growing concerns for the meaning
and purpose of life. Religious beliefs persist,
and spiritual concerns, broadly defined, are
becoming more widespread in advanced in-
dustrial societies.

Third, cultural change seems to be path

dependent. Economic development tends to
bring pervasive cultural changes, but the fact
that a society was historically shaped by
Protestantism or Confucianism or Islam
leaves a cultural heritage with enduring ef-
fects that influence subsequent development.
Even though few people attend church in
Protestant Europe today, historically Protes-
tant societies remain distinctive across a
wide range of values and attitudes. The same
is true for historically Roman Catholic soci-
eties, for historically Islamic or Orthodox
societies, and for historically Confucian so-
cieties.

Fourth, it is misleading to view cultural
change as “Americanization.” Industrializing
societies in general are not becoming like the
United States. In fact, the United States
seems to be a deviant case, as many observ-
ers of American life have argued (Lipset
1990, 1996)-its people hold much more tra-
ditional values and beliefs than do those in
any other equally prosperous society (Baker
1999). If any societies exemplify the cutting
edge of cultural change, it would be the Nor-
dic countries.

Finally, modernization is probabilistic, not
deterministic. Economic development tends
to transform a given society in a predictable
direction, but the process and path are not
inevitable. Many factors are involved, so any
prediction must be contingent on the histori-
cal and cultural context of the society in
question.

Nevertheless, the central prediction of
modernization theory finds broad support:

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50 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

Economic development is associated with

major changes in prevailing values and be-

liefs: The worldviews of rich societies differ

markedly from those of poor societies. This

does not necessarily imply cultural conver-
gence, but it does predict the general direc-

tion of cultural change and (in so far as the
process is based on intergenerational popu-

lation replacement) even gives some idea of

the rate at which such change is likely to
occur.

Ronald Inglehart is Professor of Political Sci-
ence and Program Director at the Institute for
Social Research at the University of Michigan.
He helped found the Euro-Barometer surveys and
is Chair of the executive committee of the World
Values Surveys. His research deals with chang-
ing belief systems and their impact on social and
political change. His most recent books are Mod-
ernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Eco-
nomic, and Political Change in 43 Societies
(Princeton University Press, 1997) and Human
Values and Beliefs: A Cross-Cultural Sourcebook
(with Miguel Basanez and Alejandro Moreno,
University of Michigan Press, 1998). Author of
more than 125 publications, he has been a visit-

ing professor or visiting scholar in France, Ger-
many, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, South
Korea, Taiwan, and Nigeria and has served as a
consultant to the U.S. State Department and the
European Union.

Wayne E. Baker is Professor of Organizational
Behavior and Director of the Center for Society

and Economy at the University of Michigan Busi-
ness School, and Faculty Associate at the Insti-
tute for Social Research. His research interests

include economic sociology, networks, organiza-
tion theory, and culture.

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  • Contents
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  • Issue Table of Contents
    • American Sociological Review, Vol. 65, No. 1, Feb., 2000
      • Volume Information [pp.iii-iv]
      • Front Matter [pp.i-ii]
      • Introduction to the ASR Millennial Issue: Editor’s Comment [pp.v-vi]
      • The Hidden Abode: Sociology as Analysis of the Unexpected: 1999 Presidential Address [pp.1-18]
      • Modernization
        • Modernization, Cultural Change, and the Persistence of Traditional Values [pp.19-51]
        • The Web of Group Affiliations Revisited: Social Life, Postmodernism, and Sociology [pp.52-76]
      • Globalization
        • Trade Globalization since 1795: Waves of Integration in the World-System [pp.77-95]
        • The Nation-State and the Natural Environment over the Twentieth Century [pp.96-116]
        • World Society, the Nation-State, and Environmental Protection: Comment on Frank, Hironaka, and Schofer [pp.117-121]
        • Environmentalism as a Global Institution: Reply to Buttel [pp.122-127]
      • Industrialization
        • Lost in the Storm: The Sociology of the Black Working Class, 1850 to 1990 [pp.128-137]
      • Secularization
        • Historicizing the Secularization Debate: Church, State, and Society in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ca. 1300 to 1700 [pp.138-167]
      • Back Matter